Blue Spruce Trees #832061

Asked May 25, 2023, 3:24 PM EDT

A couple of my blue spruce trees seem to be dying. They are getting dead spots and the dead spots are growing. Can you please help with what is going on, if they can be saved, and what we can do to help them?

Muskegon County Michigan

Expert Response

Hello Bonnie

Sorry you had trouble submitting a question to us. Gwyn sent me your question this afternoon, 5/25/23, and asked me to take a look at it.

The picture is a little blurry on my screen so I can’t tell exactly what it is. It may be Juniperus squamata, one of the blue varieties of Juniper, perhaps ‘Blue Star’; or possibly Picea pungens, blue spruce.,Strong%20acidic%20taste.

If the browning needles are spreading at this time, you have two ways to get an exact diagnosis.

  • Email pictures, including a close-up of the brown needles,and one taken far enough back to see the whole plant from soil line to top branch, to MSU Plant and Pest Diagnostic lab.

Include the plant history- when you planted it, how often it is watered, what type of soil do you have(clay, loam, or sand). Email to

The plant pathologist will look at them and decide if you need to submit a sample branch. (There is a modest fee if a sample branch needs to be analyzed).

  • Hire a certified arborist, a professional who has taken training in care, diseases, pests and passed certification tests. He/she will come on site and give a complete diagnosis and a plant care plan. Find certified arborists by zip code here—-

I will give you some possible causes:

This could just be dieback from winter burn, but it should not continue to progress now that shrubs are getting water.

It is dry right now so, check your soil near the roots down 4-6 inches. If dry, give these shrubs a deep watering at the base, under the branches keeping the needles dry.

This could be drought stress showing from last year’s drought. Your evergreens need to be kept moist, but not soaking wet soil, through the growing season up to when the ground freezes in late October or early November.

This could be a needle cast disease due to needles being wet too long. Redirect your sprinklers so they do not wet the needles. If this isn’t possible, then only run sprinklers early in the day so the evergreen needles dry quickly in the sun, before nightfall.

Lastly, if any herbicides where broadcast or sprayed nearby, such as a lawn weed killer, some may have drifted onto these evergreens and killed that part of the foliage.

If you have more questions, especially after you get a diagnosis, please let us know.

Laura Sheffer Replied May 25, 2023, 4:29 PM EDT

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