Alberta Spruce Tree Turning Brown


We have a variation of the Alberta spruce tree/shrub. They seem to be shedding a lot of their greenery. They are turning brown in many, many areas. In the spring I gave them some extra fertilizer for this type of shrub, but it did not seem to help. These are up by the house about a foot from the house and the back of the shrub on several of them is almost totally brown. I water them all summer and into late fall. Not sure what to do to help them along. Last summer was their second season.

Hardiness Zone: 6a

Thanks for any advice,
Ginger from Ohio


Generally speaking, Dwarf Alberta Spruce trees are pretty resistant to insects and disease. I suspect all your watering, coupled with the fact that your trees are planted within a close proximity to your house is causing some problems.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the extreme density of the foliage and stems on this type of tree, and the fact that they are often planted near foundations, promotes the retention of moisture, especially on the "backside" of the tree (the side of the tree nearest your house). This extra moisture can be a magnet for insects and fungal disease.

Check the needles and stems closely for signs of insects and disease, or if possible, have an expert out to diagnose and treat any immediate problems. Alberta Spruce prefer moist, but not wet soil. Once established, you'll find that they are fairly drought resistant so watering them regularly won't be much of a concern. To help avoid moisture problems in the future, make sure to water the tree only at the base of the trunk. Creating a small mound of soil around the base will ensure that excess water flows away from the trunk. You might also consider trying to selectively trim a few of the branches to allow for better air circulation around the canopy.


Good luck,



Alberta Spruce Tree Turning Brown

I work for a tree trimmer here in Montana and here we have a big problem with pine beetles that bore into the pine and spruce trees and kill them from the inside out, which causes much the same symptoms as you describe. It could be that it's not a lack of fertilizer so much as a parasite or bug problem. The only way to know for sure is to either get someone from the local extension service come out to check the tree or get a tree trimmer or tree "surgeon" out to check it.

It is hard to get rid of pine beetles and they have caused major devastation to the trees here, which has a hand in causing all the forest fires we have in the summer here (trees dead with dry needles). The tree can either be sprayed or cut down although that is an extreme option. There are also stakes you can put in the ground around the trunk of the tree to try to kill bugs, although they sometimes don't work. That might be a less expensive option to try before you have to call someone to come out.


If it is turning brown it will die quickly if nothing is done to kill whatever is killing it so I wouldn't wait until it gets worse to do something about it. I've seen too many trees we've had to take out completely because of bugs. Hope you can save the tree. Diane (12/09/2006)

By Diane

Alberta Spruce Tree Turning Brown

If there is a problem with pests that means the tree is under stress in the first place. It probably has to do with the site. Ensure the soil is the proper PH, the tree has proper sunlight, and it is not under drought stress. The best growing conditions won't make you tree resistant, but will give it a considerably better chance of living.

Also, Halifax had a problem with brown spruce longhorn beetle a couple of years ago in Point Pleasant Park. In this case it was an introduced species of beetle and they were out of control due to lack of predators. All the infected trees had to be cut down. The best thing to remember, however is the whole "Right Plant in Right Place" rule. It makes our environment more sustainable and happier in the long run. (03/27/2008)


By Tara

Alberta Spruce Tree Turning Brown

Could very well be red spider. I have lost a few from that and a light spraying in early spring will control that problem. (04/16/2008)

By George F.

Alberta Spruce Tree Turning Brown

Spider mites. Shake tree over white paper. You should see the little buggers crawling around. (04/29/2008)

By Chas

Alberta Spruce Tree Turning Brown

The areas that turned brown now have areas of green similar to new growth. The green is scattered throughout the brown areas. What I did was make a liquid solution of Miracle Grow all purpose fertilizer and apply about once a week. Also, I used a fungicide spray solution about once a week as well. I don't know if this did the trick but I continue to see new green growth in place of the brown. Slowly. (05/16/2008)


By Paul S


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Alberta Spruce Tree Turning Brown
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