Young spruce trees

Asked August 14, 2017, 1:36 PM EDT

One of our young spruce trees is not doing as well as the others. We planted five trees about three years ago. Some are doing well, but this particular tree is the worst. Should we prune it or take it out?

Howard County Maryland spruce failure to establish trees

1 Response

We viewed your photos. The tree looks like it failed to establish and is not a disease or insect issue. Reasons may include poor site conditions, drought, poor drainage, poor planting techniques, over mulching, the plant was root bound in the container and the roots were not able to establish into the surrounding soil, etc.
Take a look at our publication on these types of problems and our website for the Planting Process for Trees and Shrubs
http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG86%20Common%20Abio...
http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/trees-and-shrubs/planting-process

Blue spruce, in general, are not really well suited for our area as they are native to climates further to the north. When stressed by drought or other site problems they may succumb to canker http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/cytospora-canker-spruce
and needle cast diseases. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/evergreen-needle-cast-diseases-trees-and-shrubs

Keep your other trees well watered during dry periods. Make sure mulch is no thicker than several inches and away from the base of the trunk. Your tree will not recover. Consider replacement with another tree species.

mh