blue spruce buds

Asked April 28, 2018, 12:12 PM EDT

A large blue spruce was in the way of a construction project and we transplanted it in Nov of last year. It was about 12 ft high and healthy and we got almost all of the root ball and soil in the transplant.We put in some root enhancing fertilizer at the time and watered to make sure the soil was pushed down to surround all the roots ( no voids). It was a wet winter and spring here. The warm weather has brought out the buds which were a brown green initially but are now turning darker to almost black. It seems to be on the side away from the sun but the higher up ones still seem to be brown and are large and seem healthy. The color is more green grey than blue but matches the other blue spruce around it. We think the tree is about 12 to 15 years old but it seems taller than older trees we planted. We have put the 12 volt Christmas lights on it for the last 7 or 8 years. Is it possible that the miniscule current induced by the wires could stimulate growth? We call it the Katie tree after our daughter and want it to survive. Thanks.

Cumberland County Pennsylvania

6 Responses

It sounds like the tree is in shock. Transplanting a tree of that size should be done by a licensed arborist. Penn State does not recommend putting any organic matter or fertilizer in the planting hole. Also, you need to be careful that the new location meets the tree's needs. Here is a link to the website of the International Society of Arboriculture. I recommend you find a licensed arborist near you and get an opinion.

The new location is only 50 ft from the old spot that was in the middle of the new proposed driveway. Buds are out--higher up light brown and large, but lower ones go back and forth between brown and blackish and are smaller. None have pushed out the new green growth that is showing on the other blue spruce we have. Too much water--too little? I'll try the arborist again. HWS

Transplanting a tree that is already established will cause these kinds of problems. The tree will take time to recover and probably won't perform this season. If it gets an inch or two of water a week, that should be sufficient. Don't fertilize, but do keep grass out from under the tree. Use a natural mulch instead and add a soaker hose that starts a few feet out from the trunk and extends to the drip line. When we have dry spells, give the tree the 1-2 inches of water per week. You may lose the lower branches because the tree will abandon older branches that it may not be able to support due to possible loss of roots in the transplant.

Thank you very much for the information. Looks healthy the upper 10 feet. I'll take some pictures.

Lagging behind the others whose buds are gone and 2-3 inches of new growth out and green. The transplanted one has most of the buds being shed and the new growth is 1/2 to an inch long. Bigger buds and growth are on the top 6 to 8 ft. I'm optimistic---am I right/ is she recovering? Thanks Eileen. HWS

Keep after the water and let the tree settle in. Your other option is to call a licensed arborist in your area and get a professional opinion. You can find one on the zip code locator at the website of the International Society of Arboriculture. Here is a link to their website.