Hardiness Zone: 6a
By Mit from OH
I would take a picture and some sample foliage into a local nursery and ask them. Sounds like a fungus or other issue that needs treatment.
It could be winterkill, which means it was not watered deeply enough before the dry winter season. It could also be a disease. Either way, it most likely won't grow back so prune until you get to live wood.
All evergreen trees require nutrients, just like our lawns and flowers. You can often find fertilizer spikes specifically for evergreens at the garden centre (I like the Jobe's brand, WalMart here in Canada sells them). You put them under the drip line of the tree (where the furthest branches reach) and hammer them in to the ground. I believe that evergreens also need copper as a nutrient, not that you want to feed pennies to your trees (not very thrifty) but you might want to amend your soil with organic mulch or manure. I actually live in Alberta, which is zone 3 so maybe your climate is too mild (LOL!). A use for the dropped needles is to add them to your strawberries, it makes them taste more like wild strawberries. Good luck!
The top third of my alberta spruce is turning brown and losing needles. The bottom two thirds is green with new growth. The tree is about 4 years old and healthy until now. What can I do?
How often should you fertilize them?
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I treated my spruce for spider mites. How long after can I add water to the tree?
I would wait at least 24 hours, as to not wash the pesticides away.
Water is important to keeping mites away as they feed on trees that are weak so keeping the tree strong is important. Unless the package for the treatment says otherwise, watering should resume quickly (if the package doesn't say, call the company who made the product and ask for their directions). Google the brand name + contact and a number or email should come right up.
Are you positive it was mites? We have had many issues with the spruce in our back and never saw insects, just the damage. This article is helpful to looking at the various causes of issues with these:
Ours may be the cankers and we are trying the branch removal way first as I am adverse to pesticides (that is just me as we have a ton of wildlife in our back and we have a dog and small children as neighbors).
When we first thought it was bugs, we thought about introducing predictor bugs...but then changed our mind. To me that makes the most sense (survival of the fittest), but I couldn't find enough literature to make me comfortable that I wouldn't then open up a new can of worms so to speak.
This all said, if you have a college with an ag team or a home extension service, you may benefit from a call to them as treatment in your state may differ from treatment in PA where I am. They are very knowledgeable and usually the service is free and can be done with a call.
We live in Alberta, zone 3-4. I have an Alberta spruce. Does this spruce need special treatment and covering for the winter?