Norway 'Cupressina' Spruce

Asked April 18, 2018, 4:50 PM EDT

My 4 year old Cupressina spruce trees do not look columnar anymore. Some branches have opened up. I just noticed this a few days ago after we had gusty winds here in Brunswick, MD, and I thought that maybe the winds had broken some branches. But upon closer look, it seems that some branches splayed open because they were too long and heavy. What do you think is going on? Do you think that I should prune these 'too long' branches. Are my trees lacking in nutrients causing them to have spindly branches? Thank you.

Frederick County Maryland

1 Response

It's common for branches to splay out from trees like this after a storm of heavy snow weighs down the branches.
But, at any rate, you have a few choices.
You can certainly prune these top heavy branches. You could prune them off entirely but that is a last resort option. It might look better and be better for the tree to prune to a shorter length or just remove some of the heavy top to make the branch lighter.
Whether you prune it shorter or don't prune at all, you can/should straighten up the branches and tie them up ( with twine) to retrain them upwards. They "want" to grow upright. Leave the support on the tree through the growing season.

Do not worry about lack of nutrients. Over-fertilizing encourages fast WEAK growth, that could make this flopping problem worse.

However, do water your tree during dry spells. Especially water in the fall if we have a drought. (Not as uncommon as it would seem.) When evergreens go into the winter in dry soil, they keep losing moisture through their foliage but can't replace it because of dry, frozen soil. This weakens them.

Finally, we see that your tree has a lot of mulch. Be sure it never touches the tree trunk. Keep it back a few inches. Also, keep it no more than 2-3" deep. (Rain never gets through deep mulch.)