Blue Spruce

My blue spruce is dying from the bottom up

Zone 5 Elizabeth, Colorado | fhammons added on May 29, 2015 | Answered

We had a 7 foot blue spruce planted that we bought from a local nursery. It started dying right away. My husband dug up the tree to make sure the company who planted it had removed the burlap sack that was on it. They had not removed it, so my husband did and replanted it. The bottom limbs are dying and have no needles. The needles further up the tree are turning brown and the candle on top of the tree is turning brown. Is there anything we can do for this tree and can we cut off the bottom branches?

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on May 30, 2015

The issue of removing burlap or not seems to be up for debate. What type of burlap was it (natural or synthetic)? Synthetic burlap, such as plastic burlap, would need to be removed prior to planting since it's not bio-degradable. And even if natural burlap is left on, the ties around the base of the trunk should at least be cut so as not to girdle the tree.

The fact that your tree started dying right away after being planted suggests there was a problem with how it was planted. How deep was the tree planted? Trees that are planted too deep will become stressed (see

Was the spruce watered? It needs to be watered pretty regularly at the outset to help it become established. Is it in well-draining soil?

Here is a link to a very informative extension article on 'Spruce Problems: Pests & Diseases': (see If this wasn't a new planting, I would say the problem was Rhizosphaera needle cast as that causes branches to die from the bottom up. However, given the circumstances, this seems unlikely.

Regardless, I would contact the nursery who sold you that tree and make an inquiry about getting a replacement for gratis (hopefully the place you purchased it from has a return policy).

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