Blue Spruce

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by Daniel Mosquin, May 28, 2003.

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    The following was received via email:

    Hello, we have a blue spruce that we transplanted from a container to the ground two years ago. Initially it responded famously - recently, however, it has serious browning of the needles - although it continues to send out new sprouts.

  2. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Well-Known Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Vancouver, Canada
    Transplanting from containers is generally a straightforward operation. Success is not always assured, however, if the plant is not treated appropriately before and following the change in its environment.

    If the plant is root-bound in the container, roots often need to be teased apart to facilitate penetration of roots outside the container's original depth and diameter. With many tree species, roots will quickly encircle the root-ball while still in the container. It is imperative that these roots are unwound when planted out, otherwise, they will continue to circle and eventually strangle the plant.

    Before transplanting, root-balls should always be well-moistened, so that the finest roots don't dry out when the container is removed. This is particularly important with plants that have fine, brittle roots; although, if the soil is overly saturated, the extra weight may tear these roots. The soil into which the plant is going should also be evenly moist, and the plant firmed in adequately to exclude lage air pockets. A thorough watering in will help to settle the soil around the roots.

    Even with the best treatment, transplants can show signs of stress, particularly if they were mistreated before, or the new environment is drastically different (e.g., shade to sun, cool to hot, dry to moist, etc.) after transplanting. Some people swear by transplanting fertilizers to help plants get over "transplant shock," but these materials are usually unnecessary if careful consideration is given to the above principles.

    Spruce are fairly tough once established. In the Vancouver area, however, needle loss is common on the older branches of many species (including Picea pungens glauca -- Colorado blue spruce) and is often the result of shading, poor air-circulation, roots drying out, excessive winter moisture and damage by spruce mite or spruce aphid. These are not insignificant problems for blue spruce in particular and generally limit the useful life of these trees here.

    If new growth is evident on the transplant, recovery is virtually assured, but care should be taken to optimize conditions, or else the tree will become ugly in short order.
  3. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Beaverton, Oregon
    Is it the inner, older needles that are discoloring?

    If so, that corresponds with the "needle persistence" associated with many conifers and other plants.

    If the newer needles discolor, that's for concern.

    If its the older, that's reasonable and expected.

    We explain this at our landscape advice topics at

    Also, if there is a snap of hot weather, Spider Mites can cause damage. A search on the net should tell you all you want to know about those. They are not insects. Very small, in fact, holding paper under a branch and shaking the branch can help.

    Look for big dust that has legs I say.

    Try washing foliage occassionally.

    If you get mites, make sure your spray is a Miticide if you end up with the chemical route.
  4. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Metro Vancouver, BC, Canada.
    Mites can definately do the damage. Aphids can also be a problem, or adelgids depending on which way you may lean. If the spruce is in the lower mainland, it isn't really their normal environment for optimum growth. Blue Spruce tend to like hot, dry summers and cold, dry winters ( Kamloops or Merrit are great examples of locations that favour these types of spruce) and conversely they tend not to like.. damp, mild springs with wet, mild winters and warmish summers ( aka GVRD ). With a drier spot and low rainfall you can enjoy brilliant blue new growth but generally the tree tends to have a short life span locally. Some striking varieties would include: Hoopsii and Fat Albert (Iseli introduction).

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