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Weeping norway spruce struggling

Posted by ziaroot Utah (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 12, 14 at 21:47

I bought and planted a weeping norway spruce into a flower bed a couple of years ago. I love this tree! It has done fantastic for the last couple of years but a couple of weeks ago I noticed it started browning and dropping needles. It had a lot of new beautiful buds this spring and has taken a turn for the worse. I dug around the root ball to check the moisture level and it seems to be ok. I manually water this flower bed and it occasionally catches overspray from the sprinkler. I noticed that there are a lot of shallow roots spreading through the top couple inches of soil. My neighbors weeping nors don't have the shallow roots like mine. I'm not an experienced gardener and need help to save this tree. There are boxwoods, hostas, a false cypress and a host of other small plants in this bed that are doing fantastic. I'm just not sure if it's a watering issue or some type of disease. Please help me save this wonderful tree.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Weeping norway spruce struggling

how bad was your winter????

are there any live buds on the ends of the bare sticks????

did this springs buds start growing??? .. you said it had them.. but then i dont understand ...

it probably does not need the level of water.. the rest of your perennials need .. it should near dry in between deep waterings ...

how do you know.. the roots you are seeing.. are from this plant????


RE: Weeping norway spruce struggling

Picea abies 'Pendula' aka 'Reflexa' are fairly durable.

The fact that this one is dropping needles from the limb tips inward encompassing the entire plant is not a good sign.

Your conifer is dying. I suspect a bad dig and too many feeder roots severed when dug.

Diagnosing problems is a stretch in most cases for us on the forum unless there isn't any doubt as to what we are looking at. In your case your county extension agent will give you a visit for free and without out a doubt the way I would go if in your shoes.

Good luck,


This post was edited by Davesconifers on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 11:05

RE: Weeping norway spruce struggling

Winter was fairly typical of Utah...nothing out of the ordinary, but the tree was doing great this spring. A plethora of soft new buds like the previous year and it was looking great up until a few weeks ago. On the back side of the tree the new buds are still unaffected by whatever is bothering this tree, but I do see a few branches starting to brown on the back side (just hasn't started dropping needles like the front side yet), so maybe the whole thing is a goner. The shallow roots can only be from this tree, there isn't anything else close by ,except for a couple of hostas.

Again though, this tree has been in the ground and doing great for almost 3 years. It had new growth last spring and new growth this spring. Looked good until a month ago. I didn't change watering habits but have read on other threads that watering can be an issue so I was hoping it would an easy fix...the shallow roots made me scratch my head so I'm thinking there is something amiss there or possibly a disease. I realize it is dying and am hoping for some suggestions to help me pinpoint the problem. Not sure where to turn. I'm not sure what Dave means by a bad dig? Are you saying that I possibly damaged the feeder roots when I dug around the tree to check moisture levels or that it was planted wrong a few years ago?

Thanks for the input. I really do appreciate it!

Hope I can save this little tree!

RE: Weeping norway spruce struggling

I'm not sure what Dave means by a bad dig?

==>> dave is thinking it was a ball and burlap dig.. and its root system was slaughtered at that digging ... and its not been able to get re-established, even after 3 years .....


RE: Weeping norway spruce struggling

If it was a bad dig, can that be remedied? Can I dig it out and fix it somehow or if the root system is bad, is it a goner no matter what?

Thanks again

RE: Weeping norway spruce struggling


There are no two root systems the same. It has been somewhat established that when dug to root ball form the plant is left with only 10% of its existing root stock. Most B&B plants are dug by a gang hired by the nursery. What they dig up and ball is what you get. Not a lot of care is given. If your lucky you will get a multitude of the very fine hair like non-woody roots (the feeder roots) left in the Root ball. Absorption of water and mineral nutrients is the function of these very fine hair like roots. They will carry the plant till it re acclimates. Usually by the 3rd year this comes into play. If the root ball is broken upon shipment or dropped off the back at the retail nursery,which is usually the case, this will break these feeder roots, thus your life line is severed and the tree will go into decline. Always check for this before you purchase.

Hopefully you did crown your root flare.

Read the provided link.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tree Roots - Where Are They?

RE: Weeping norway spruce struggling

Dave -

Thanks so much for the info. I have a sneaky suspicion that you've nailed the issue. I'll take a closer look at the root flare. I'll do my best to save my little guy.

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