Gardening: Alberta Spruce

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Miss Mary

Gardening: Alberta Spruce

#1 Postby Miss Mary » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:21 pm

We have two Alberta Spruce shrubs that are 15 years old. They have suddenly turned 50% brown. I have watered them deeply (drip method), fertilized them with Muir Acid but wonder if I should trim off the brown areas (basically cutting off the outer edges of stems)?

Has anyone ever trimmed an Alberta Spruce? I know they can be shaped into specific shapes (I think you need to do this from the beginning). We've just always let them grow naturally.

Thanks.

Mary
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#2 Postby Pburgh » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:20 am

Mary, sounds like you have spider mites. That brown section will never turn green again. I'd cut off the brown. Put your garden hose on full force and spray those trees as hard as you can going from top to bottom, inside and out. Spray them once a week like this - a really HARD shower once a week!!! See if that works.
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#3 Postby Miss Mary » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:32 am

Thanks Karan. I did fertilize with the hose end sprayer but that's a gentle spray. I'll switch nozzles (we have several).

I predict they'll look bad for a while but I've had so many other shrubs benefit from a mild or drastic sheering. I took what looked like 4 miniature holly shrubs down to 6 inches (75% dead growth above). It took about 3 or 4 months but they came back very full, green and healthy. They look like brand new shrubs! The old stumps are hidden beneath new foliage. I took several Barberry's down to the ground, they've come back stronger than ever. Same with 2 Cotoneaster's. All of these look newly planted shrubs.

I just need to have the courage to sheer or trim these spruce shrubs!
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#4 Postby Pburgh » Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:56 am

Some plants really love to be cut back.
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Re: Gardening: Alberta Spruce

#5 Postby dizzyfish » Tue Jun 10, 2008 2:53 pm

Sounds like spider mites to me too. I had that happen with my 3 yew. I don't know how big your Alberta Spruce are (or even what they look like since I've never seen one..lol) so this may not be feasible for you to do but - what worked on my yew was a mixture of Dawn dish soap and water sprayed on them. When I water them now I kinda "blast" them with the hose too.

I think the dish soap helps drown the critters. Hope that helps!
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Re: Gardening: Alberta Spruce

#6 Postby Miss Mary » Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:17 pm

dizzy - I've used lemon scented dish soap in my hose end sprayer for years! There really is something to adding dish soap to your fertilizer. Plants and lawns love it. But you use Dawn huh? Well, I could give it a try. When I used the Muir Acid I added squirt of Ajax dish soap to the mix.

We've also used beer and ammonia in a hose end sprayer on our lawn before too!
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Re: Gardening: Alberta Spruce

#7 Postby Miss Mary » Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:43 am

Update - I trimmed these shrubs. Not severely, as I do other types since Alberta Spruce trees grow slowly. I then sprayed for the spider mites, since they're 50% brown in areas now (we keep two hose end sprayers separate, one for weed and feed, the other fertilizer).

If I sprayed for bugs on Friday, how soon can I fertilize? I prefer Muir Acid with a squirt of lemon scented dish soap to the hose end sprayer.

In the end, I suspect we've lost these two spruce trees but for now, we're trying to keep them. Since I cut them back, I realize they've crowded 3 other evergreen shrubs, so if the two taller spruce trees are removed, the remaining 3 shrubs in the middle can bush out more than they could in the past. I might plant two ornamental type shrubs where the spruce trees were (barberry possibly) but I don't think I'd try alberta spruce trees again. They grow so slowly and have a tendency to brown inside or on the side that faces your house.

Mary
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Re: Gardening: Alberta Spruce

#8 Postby dizzyfish » Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:57 am

Miss Mary wrote:Update -
If I sprayed for bugs on Friday, how soon can I fertilize? I prefer Muir Acid with a squirt of lemon scented dish soap to the hose end sprayer.

Mary


I would think you could go ahead and fertilize. I think once the "bug killer" is dry you are good to go.
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#9 Postby Miss Mary » Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:40 am

I fertilized yesterday.

Now the wait and see begins. We will probably have to cut these trees down and grind the stumps. Sigh.....wish I had caught this browning earlier than I did. It was really bad when we got home from vacation. Had I been in town I would have seen it.

But I've heard that when they brown this severely, the damage was already done.

I watered our two Bradford Pear, two maple and 1 pine tree last year. I guess I didn't water these alberta spruce (shrubs really) enough. Dang it. The 5 I mentioned are all doing fine.

We had a severe drought here in Cincinnati last year, coupled with extremely high temps for at least 3 weeks straight.

Many trees are now dead, all across the city and region (I've read in the paper).
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#10 Postby Pburgh » Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:05 am

Believe it or not I NEVER water my trees or shrubs. I leave that up to God.

From what you are saying I would remove those browned shrubs. Go to Home Depot and see if you can find a Pieris Japonica. This is the coolest little shrub. It has wonderful flowers in the Spring and the growth is a beautiful red.
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#11 Postby Miss Mary » Wed Jun 25, 2008 7:37 am

Our street decided to plant Bradford Pear trees oh 15 years ago. Many were planted near sidewalks and/or curb. And did poorly. A neighbor consulted the nursery we bought them at, they suggested weekly waterings (slow drip method) and fertilizing with a good fertilizer (Miracle Grow type). I started watering each week and fertilizing each week, I added dish soap to the mix too. I sprayed everything, entire trunk, the circle of mulch/grass out to the drip line (farthest tip of branch), inside the tree, outside, etc. I then switched to just water and rinsed the tree.

Well, out of oh 50 trees, my two are probably the largest and still healthiest. They haven't split yet (in storms, knock on wood).

Everyone has asked me how I grew these trees so well.

I smile and say - I followed the nursery's suggestions!

Oh, how I want to dig up 15 year old dirt and aerate the ground near many of these struggling trees, but my neighbors wouldn't appreciate that......LOL I also raked the mulch and never had it touch the trunk (keeping mulch away by at least 6 inches). Still do this in fact.

So until the day we move, I know I'll keep on doing what has worked.

Many of my neighbors have never watered their trees. Some have lost theirs though and many have split.

I do only concentrate on trees we've planted. The ones way in the back by our woods were here long before we moved in. I just figure they've survived this long, they'll either last or die out. I'd have to purchase a really long hose to reach back that far anyway......

If these Bradford Pear trees hadn't been doing so poorly (overall, 27 homes times 2 trees, do the math), I probably wouldn't have started this tree maintenance plan in the first place. Now it's just ingrained in me!
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