Norway Spruce Seedling Problems

Asked May 16, 2020, 7:57 PM EDT

I ordered 30 bare root Norway Spruce saplings from Arbor day fall 2018 and over half of them have struggled and or died. They start losing needles from the top down and then they are dead. Should I have my soil tested? Should I try a different spruce? I kept them watered during dry spells.

Midland County Michigan

1 Response

Hello,
Thank you for contacting "Ask an Expert!"
When a tree dies from the top down, it indicates an issue with water or root uptake of water. How were the trees packed when you received them? Is there a chance the roots dried out while planting? Are they in a windy area? Winter desiccation is another common issue with conifers. This occurs when the ground is frozen, temps are near freezing and the wind blows. The warmer temps cause the stomata, or holes on the needles to open and respire, allowing water to escape. Because the roots are in frozen ground, the roots can not take up the water lost through the needles and the tree dries from the inside out.
Norway spruce are one species I recommend for a variety of soils and conditions as they usually do fairly well in our region (I'm north of you in Roscommon). So, I don't think it's the soils.
If you'd like to discuss further, please respond to this thread or call me on my cell 989-390-0317.
Thank you,
Julie