Drooping New Growth on Spuces

coniferfreak(z6 PA)May 19, 2008

I am not sure whether I have a serious problem here or not... Over the weekend we just had 4 new Picea Pungens planted (not sure of the cultivar, they are reportedly a hybrid from Penn State University, and only have a number assigned to them). They are a beautiful blue-green shade, with softer needles than most blue spruces, and are approx. 7-8' tall x 4-5' wide. Anyway, they were planted in the same manner as all the existing conifers we have in our yard... Our tree guy watered them in well, cut back the burlap, removed the twine, and mulched well. I noticed the trees had lots of new growth, anywhere from around 2-4". But the new growth appeared to be droopy. I did not think twice about it, and assumed it was normal for these trees since they have softer needles. Here is a pic our tree guy took of them growing in the field. Notice the one to the far right has more growth and it is droopy.

Does anyone know of any spruces that exhibit this behavior? I am wondering if this is normal or if there is a problem with these trees. The new growth reminds me of wilted flowers. I have never seen this before so I am totally stumped.

Today our pool landscapers were working here, and one pointed that out to me and said I should get some water on them. So I watered them good.. however I still see no difference. So maybe this is how these trees are supposed to look???

I will try to get some pics tomorrow of our actual planted trees and will post them. But I just wanted to find out if anyone else has ever seen anything like this before. I noticed that some of the new growth has dropped off, but I am not sure if that was from the planting or if it happened naturally.

Any thoughts from you more experienced gurus???

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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Assuming the growth is not natural (and it very well could be), do you know if they were balled and burlaped when they first went into the field? They may have been struggling to get beyond the burlap out there. Then they may have gotten burlaped a second time to deliver them to you. I know you know to do this, but I have to ask, are you soaking the rootball itself when you water?


    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 1:28AM
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It's normal for new shoots on spruces to droop like that - nothing to worry about.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 3:33AM
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Apparently then, they were transplanted AFTER they'd flushed new growth? That's not good,


    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 7:15AM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

As Resin says: "It's normal for new shoots on spruces to droop like that - nothing to worry about".

When new growth matures and hardens off the drooping appearance will be gone

Does this look familiar?

Dave Picea mariana'Aureovariegata'

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 8:10AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

find my post on picea glauca dent... and compare the new growth.. very normal ...

i will make it easy.. link below


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 8:45AM
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Yes, let me make this perfectly clear--this is completely normal. One thing that everyone needs to understand is that most of the people that work for a nursery are just laborers, not tree experts, so before you ask any questions, make sure you know who you are talking to.

Last week someone else asked about the red growths on the tips of some branches of his Norway spruce. He asked someone at the nursery about them and was told they had never heard or seen anything like that. And it was simply nothing more than the usual appearance of newly developing female cones. Every nursery probably has at least one or two knowledgeable people working there, but usually no more--be careful.

I would like to know more about these hybrid spruces. Why did you buy them? How are they supposed to grow? they look very nice.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 9:43AM
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coniferfreak(z6 PA)

Thanks for all the replies!

Tsuga, yes the rootballs have been soaked very well.

+oM, yes they were planted after the new growth was already pushed out. This is not good? I was wondering about that actually... but what can happen? (and more importantly is there anything I can do about it now?)

Dave, Ken, Resin, and Spruce: Your answers certainly make me feel better. I hope this is normal for these trees. The droopy new growth on our spruces appear droopier than those in the pics you guys posted.. Here are some pics I just took this morning of our actual planted trees. Sorry I could not get up closer...I had to take them from inside the garage because it is raining. If it ever stops, I will run out and get a close up of the new growth.

Tree with the most growth (all the "stuff" you see in back of these trees is in my neighbor's yard).

Tree with the least growth (to the left of a doug fir).

Dave, that is an awesome pic of your Picea mariana'Aureovariegata'. I just read that in Newfoundland they actually boil the branches to make spruce beer! :) lol

Spruce, to answer your question as to why I bought these, I had requested some narrow growing blue spruces (similar to a Bakerii) plant in a triangle formation as a windbreak/privacy screen for this extremely windy area of our side yard (north-west exposure). Our tree guy suggested these, and said these look awesome. I am not yet sure of exactly how they grow, but they were so nice looking I could not resist having to find out! ;) We have plenty of room on our property, so if they should ever grow too wide we will deal with that when the time comes. But I plan to do some research to find out exactly what we have here. If/when I do, I will definitely post the info here! I am suspecting it is one of the hybrids that I've read about that is a cross between a blue spruce and white spruce... but who knows... I will post a close-up of the growth tomorrow (if the rain ever stops).

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 2:21PM
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Your drooping new growth in he new picture still looks normal to me. There is some variation in the amount of this droop from tree to tree. I have seen some spruce trees with much more droop in the new foliage than this. Also, at the end of a sunny day the droop can be more than in the morning--this is also normal.

Trees can be planted after they leaf out--no problem if they are not disturbed in the root ball during transportation and planting. The difficulty with transplanting leafed out trees is if they are dug after they leaf out. But if they are dug when dormant, then, with some extra care, it is fine to plant them later.

But you should keep these well-watered, but not constantly sopping wet. Let them dry our a bit between waterings. How often you need to water depends on your soil type--very well-drained sandy soils will require more frequent watering than heavier soils. And then, of course the weather is a very important factor.

As for the identity of these spruces--the only hybrid blue spruce I can find on the Net was developed at Michigan State U and is called "Spartan Spruce," (a hybrid between blue spruce and white spruce). Maybe Penn State developed some other hybrid, but I can find nothing about it on the Net. Please heck and see what you can find out--I have a great interest in such things. Thanks!


    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 4:24PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

absolutely normal ... but on their independent schedules ...

those trees were sheared by the wholesaler ... for perfect shape ...

note on the pix just above spruce.. the return of a more normal growth habit ... the top pic ... looks like it is going to be a much more open habit..


    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 4:41PM
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The trees may well be fine, but the wording at the tail end of the OP makes it clear, to me at least, that they were "leafed out" prior to digging. That is my interpretation of the pic of them in the nursery field, at any rate.

Best of luck with these. I like the notion of hybridizing pungens and glauca.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 9:51PM
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coniferfreak(z6 PA)

Thanks for all the info (and encouragement)! I guess I will just have to wait and see what happens. The new growth still looks and feels like wilted flowers, but maybe it will straighten itself out soon. I know it is definitely not lack of water, as we just had yet another rainy day here! So unfortunately I haven't been able to get a real good close-up pic.

But I will keep you all posted on these trees... especially when I find out exactly what they are. Spruceman, from reading about that Spartan Spruce, these do seem to fit the description exactly.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 1:11AM
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coniferfreak(z6 PA)

Spruce, I can't seem to get an answer from our tree guy about where he got them from, or the hybrid number, etc. But if you are interested, I can send you some cones if/when they make some.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 10:42PM
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Thanks for the offer, but the best thing would probably to take some pictures of them and post them so people who really know cones, like resin, can comment. I am not that good at that kind of identification, and I don't think I would want to try to grow any seeds.

What I may do, however, is contact MSU and see how I could get some of these trees for myself. I can't remember, but there was a prior discussion of these trees here a few months ago and I think someone may have said that MSU had decided not to propagate and promote these trees as much as they had originally thought they would because they did not fill the niche they expected, or something like that. When I get some time I will search that and if I find something interesting I will copy it and post it here.



    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 9:38AM
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