Spruce needles turned brown

Asked November 13, 2018, 11:46 AM EST

Hello, A few days ago, after those 1st really cold nights, we noticed that some of the needles on our Colorado Blue Spruce had turned brown. The brown needles are near the bottom of the tree, closer to the trunk than to the tips of the branches. See 2 photos attached. Is this a temporary response to the cold, or something we need to have treated? Thanks for your help, Takoma Park

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

We viewed your photos. This looks like normal fall color and needle drop https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/normal-leaf-shedding
as well as a fungal disease called Rhizosphaeria needle cast.
The infected needles will frequently fall off leaving bare twigged branches scattered throughout the tree. The infection period is long - spring through midsummer. The needles are affected in the fall and needle drop occurs in the spring. Pruning out severely infected branches is the best control method on branches that show sparse growth. If possible water the trees during dry periods. There is no chemical control. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/evergreen-needle-cast-diseases-trees

Blue spruce grow best in higher elevations like PA and western MD. They can be poor choices for other areas. They used to be popular landscape trees. Take a look at our recent blog on blue spruce https://marylandgrows.umd.edu/2018/01/08/whats-wrong-with-my-blue-spruce-tree/

mh