dwarf alberta spruce problem! Help!

jordy3641March 27, 2012

I planted 2 dwarf alberta spruce last summer and they both took to their new homes nicely :) Now spring is on it's way and i am noticing that both trees have turned brown on the south side :( this side faces the sun and also the other winter elements (cold wind especially). The north side of both trees is still green, this side is more sheltered. I am now reading that one should plant these types of trees so that they are not subjected to cold, harsh winter wind. My question is, are these trees done for? Will this browning come back to green? And if it will come back, would i be wise to wrap them next winter, or would that hurt them more? Please help! I really need it! :)

Thanks in advance.


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No your trees are not done for. The browning probably won't come back to green but they will send out new growth on any branches that are alive.

If this happened one winter it will happen again, so you would be wise to give them some protection. You can wrap them in burlap but not too tight that you break branches or just make a windbreak for them on that side with poles and a double layer of burlap.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Thanks dowlinggram for the info :) d u know then if when the threat of last frost is past, should i knock all the dead needles off to make room for any new growth that may come and then put some sort of fertilizer on it? And if so, can u recommend something?

Thanks again

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 7:58PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

How much of the south side of the plant is brown? How big are these trees? Any chance of pictures?

Understand that any growth will only come if there are live buds and there's very little chance of live buds on brown branches. Only green ones.

Do not fertilize a stressed tree.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 10:09PM
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After looking at the trees again i'd have to say almost 2/3 of each tree is brown. Some of the areas look like there might be some green underneath but the side that faces straight south is quite brown. I don't have any pics of it but i might be able to get some on here to show u. I might be able to get the trees replaced as the place i bought them has a one year return policy if they get sick or die within one year of purchase. I'm just thinking i'd rather not have to dig them up and plant new ones again if i don't have to.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 10:15PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

You should use that return. 2/3 brown wouldn't be worth risking cuz next year they likely will be all brown. Plus it would take years to recover...if ever.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 2:27PM
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Ok Tj, thanks. I'll probably do that then if i can. Thanks to everybody who helped this poor, inexperienced green thumb! :)


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 4:01PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Here is another thread on this issue, mostly blaming to spider mites.
Check the buds, scratch open to see if still green inside, if so, then you can have hope.
It could be sun scalding, intense light from snow, especially when you have small trees and barely looking out of the snow. I used to have this on other small spruce, I sprayed them with a light white latex/water solution for 2 season or so until they got taller, apply late fall.
They would brown and needles fall off, new branches would emerge from the buds and in 3 or 4 years it wasn't notisable anymore.

Here is a link that might be useful: alberta spruce problem

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 12:55AM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

Several years ago, i bought a dwarf Alberta spruce and had the same thing happen. I didn't know to shelter it, but it was buried in snow all winter anyway. Nothing has ever grown back on it, but the top looks so nice that i'm reluctant to get rid of it. This year i'm going to try planting perennials in front of it to hide the brown - see if that works. If it doesn't, well, i guess it will get shovel-pruned. Eventually. :-/

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 12:35PM
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Where I live in SW Montana, we recommend planting Dw Alberta's where they get protection from winter sun and wind. They will usually survive a more exposed location but will suffer winter burn for a few seasons until well established. Severe winter burn can severely disfigure the bush. Wrapping with burlap for the winter can help lessen that if you want to try and make a go of it. As the brown needles get "crisp" you can brush them off and wait to see how much comes back over the summer, or replace now but maybe use something more sun and wind tolerant in winter like an upright juniper (which yes, will grow larger that the DAS).

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 5:34PM
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