Asked September 20, 2018, 11:58 AM EDT

The baby blue eyes spruces have been planted since May of this year and are showing signs of lower branch browning and die out. Been watering every third day if the ground is drying out I applied 5 to 6 gallons of water per tree. The spruce trees have been dropping needles for the last month. Thanks, Larry

Larimer County Colorado

3 Responses

Hi Larry,

When the tree was planted, was the burlap removed from the root ball?

Also, when you water, where do you apply the water? At the root ball or further out?

Following planting, you would apply the water directly to the root ball, at the base of the tree. We often get soil texture interfaces, where your native soil is one texture, the backfill is different and the root ball is different. Water moves through these layers in different ways.

The tree looks like it's been planted properly (at the right height), but there could be other things going on. Also, trees will naturally shed needles/leaves (and even branches) following transplant, especially since it's stressful. Until today, the temperatures have been also very hot, so water may be lacking, even though you've been diligent. Can you determine if the root ball is moist or wet?

Hi Alison, Yes the wire cage and burlap was removed at time of planting. I water the trees from the trunk out using a 5 gallon bucket,first I dig down 4 to 6 inches and check the mositure level. I also builded a water well to keep the water in place and mulched the drip line of the trees.The nursery stacked out the spruce trees, do they need to be stakes out ? Only reason I can see is to help straighten the tree the first year and wind damage. Thanks, Larry

Hi Larry,

Generally I don't support staking of trees, but evergreens can benefit. Next May, one year after planting, check to see if the tree has rooted properly and then remove the stakes. But don't leave them on for more than two growing seasons (one is better).

As for the water, keep up the efforts. It's likely linked to transplanting. Give the tree regular water through a hard frost and then once or twice per month through winter. Even if we get some snow with moisture, try to water once per month. Resume your watering schedule next spring as the ground thaws. Spruce are water-loving trees.