Dwarf Alberta Spruce browning

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by ctbearfan, Jul 31, 2005.

  1. ctbearfan

    ctbearfan Member

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    Location:
    Maryland
    I recently have purchase my 3rd Dwarf Alberta spruce due to the fact it's being eaten by something; can't see it. All needles eventually turn brown and fall off. I have it planted in a large pot outside and have already changed the soil and used Kelthane to kill the pests I can't see. Nothihng seems to be working! Any help would be greatly appreicated!
     
  2. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Metro Vancouver, BC, Canada.
    Alberta Spruce can be slow to respond to stress and / or insect damage, by the time you see symptoms the culprit or envireonment may have left or changed. monitor for spider mite and consider rethinking your watering regime?
     
  3. rxbristol

    rxbristol Member

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    Location:
    North Central Texas
    Where are you getting your trees from? The reason I ask is because some nurseries fumigate confiers before they're shipped. I have seen this fumigation process kill hundreds of conifers. The plants arrive in prime condition but within several weeks they're dead.

    Rex
     
  4. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    Rex, are these nurseries located on the East Coast
    and then shipping the fumigated trees into Texas?

    As odd as it may seem, Kelthane may not be the
    right insecticide to be using for mites. You may
    get a quick kill by contact but the mites are back
    in a week or two. A thorough showering of water
    will work better for you but do not do it midday
    in direct, hot sun for these Spruce. Alberta Spruce
    get chewed up rather easily by mites. The problem
    usually is that we see the damage long after the
    infestation has hurt us. I give my plants a shower
    of water once a week when the temps are in the
    mid 80's and higher. As a general rule I do the
    same thing for all of my Spruce. I've never had
    to spray for mites because of my doing that for
    cultural, better put for preventative control.

    Generally, if we have problems with Alberta Spruce
    in which the needles drop with no regeneration of
    new growth, all we have to do is look at the root
    system to better learn what went wrong. Alberta's
    take years to develop much of a root system. Even
    in Oregon 10-15 foot tall plants have rather shallow
    but spreading roots. Makes me think it is by design
    as Alberta Spruce do not like having their feet wet for
    any length of time. We kill off many of these by over
    watering them. Then there is the fertilizer issue in
    which a nitrate form of Nitrogen can harm the roots
    before we can expect the fertilizer to help us any.
    The time release fertilizers added in the potting mixes
    is just asking for trouble with many Conifers, unless
    the trees have some age on them and have a developed
    root system. I do not apply any Nitrogen to Spruce
    other than what is in my potting soil, mulch or humus
    amended soil. The amount of sunlight will depend
    on area to area as some Alberta Spruce will grow well
    once established in high shade but for us we will lose
    them growing them in high shade here. They do best
    here in filtered or indirect sun with some afternoon
    protection. Even in Oregon most of the better Alberta
    Spruce seem to be protected from the hot afternoon sun.
    Too much warm to hot sun and dryness on the needles
    will open the door for wind blown mites coming in from
    dust to settle in and invade.

    Jim
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Pest-susceptible plant notorious for turning brown and shedding, a comparatively delicate variant of a northern Rocky Mountain species. Check local suitability before spending much more money on such plants, which may not do well in your area at all. TAMU Horticulture on www might be a useful source of information for you.
     
  6. rxbristol

    rxbristol Member

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    Location:
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    Jim, thanks for the additional information. The nursery I experienced disappointing results from was Messer, located in Indiana. How did you know it was an East shipping to the West fumigation problem?

    This year was the worst I've ever seen for mites, so I followed everyone's advice from this forum and continued to spray water--all my conifers have thrived while others in this area, that were over 40 years old, have died.

    Rex
     
  7. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    How did you know it was an East shipping to the
    West fumigation problem?


    Rex, we do not fumigate our nursery stock here
    unless we have to. Nurseries East of the Rockies
    have to fumigate their plants at some time or
    another to maintain their certification status in
    order to ship them into California. Without a
    state issued certificate number to accompany the
    shipment the plants will either be fumigated by
    the county Ag commissioner's office at the
    senders expense or the plants will be destroyed
    on the spot. The fumigation is to prevent a certain
    quarantine insect from entering California.

    Some nurseries will fumigate for the Click Beetle
    also known as the Wireworm. Texas may also have
    an insect importation restriction of nursery stock
    coming in from certain states requiring the plants
    to be fumigated.

    Jim
     
  8. mlxtrees

    mlxtrees Member

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    Location:
    upper midwest
    I have about 6 dwarf albrta spruce trees that were planted about one year ago.
    They are just coming out of winter and I notice every one of them is browning on the sunny side only. Is this normal?
     
  9. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Location:
    Kingston, Ontario, Canada
    It is unfortunately, quite normal for dwarf Alberta spruce. If the browning isn't too severe, the new growth will quickly cover it up. Sometimes though, the browing is bad enough to toast the new buds as well and you lose the foliage on that side of the tree.

    If it happens again next spring (should be pretty established by then), consider wrapping with burlap to keep the winter sun off them.

    Simon
     
  10. mlxtrees

    mlxtrees Member

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    Location:
    upper midwest
    Thanks for the fast reply!
    Mother nature is playing a cruel joke this spring with a high temp inthe 80's a few weeks ago, now we are facing cold temps and more snow. The new growth appears to be browning on the sunny side too, so I'll take your advice for next year.
     
  11. victoriarose

    victoriarose Member

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    Location:
    District of Kent, BC Canada
    I have found two things that cause browning, dog pee and people handling the foliage. I have seen garden center staff moving these plants around by grabbing the trees instead of the pots they are growing in.
     

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