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Old 09-30-2012, 09:11 PM   #1
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Making a blue spruce healthier


I have a blue spruce in my yard, maybe around 30 feet high or so. I noticed that some branches are starting to die a bit and it's not looking as healthy as I'd like it. Last year I did cut lot of branches to open up the bottom and I planted grass, as the branches were just dragging on the ground. I got my weeping tiles redone and there is a big root that got exposed, but I don't think it's for that tree unless it takes a really weird turn. It was not damaged much and it was burried back. There are a few exposed roots at the foot of the tree though, but I think this is normal as trees grow.

Is there anything I can do to get it healthier? I probably will have to wait till next year to do it given we're in the freezing temps but thought I'd ask just in case there is something that is better to do in fall. The perma frost has not set in yet so we do get days that arn't freezing and the ground is not frozen yet as far as I know.

I eventually want to put a ton of Christmas lights in there, but I don't want to do that until I get it back to full health.

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Old 09-30-2012, 09:53 PM   #2
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Making a blue spruce healthier


It was a really dry summer and I think your tree is stressed from that. In fact I heard there is still a burn ban up your way. Until Indian summer passes your tree is still capable and will really benefit from a good long drink. You may not see a good turn around until spring

Hopefully your tree is not suffering from a fungal disease


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Old 10-01-2012, 03:46 AM   #3
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Making a blue spruce healthier


A good feeding will help also. You can still do it until the ground freezes


http://www.extension.umn.edu/distrib...re/dg7410.html
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:16 AM   #4
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Making a blue spruce healthier


After reading: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distrib...re/dg7410.html
Spring is really the best time to fertilize a tree (if it needs it after a soil test).
Feeding in the fall/winter may cause plant to push growth at the wrong time of year.
Make sure it gets water more than anything.
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:19 AM   #5
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Making a blue spruce healthier


Quote:
Originally Posted by bob22 View Post
After reading: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distrib...re/dg7410.html
Spring is really the best time to fertilize a tree (if it needs it after a soil test).
Feeding in the fall/winter may cause plant to push growth at the wrong time of year.
Make sure it gets water more than anything.
Red lives 14 hours NORTH of Toronto. I doubt anything will grow. It will go dormant or die
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:21 AM   #6
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Making a blue spruce healthier


I want to clarify both fertilizer comments.

Remember the tree is a conifer so you do not want to use a high nitrogen fertilizer or you can end up burning the needles. Conifers cannot process nitrogen the way broader leaf trees can. Some is fundamental to growth of course.

I disagree about waiting until spring. Now would be the best time to fertilizer an established conifer. The top of the tree will be diverting much energy to root development over the winter. I would get an auger for your your impact drill and go as deep as the auger will let you. You can either fill the holes with a mix of sand and fertilizer at the proper rate. Or use something like tree pellets or food stakes.

As Jan hints, I would definitely look around your hood at other conifers for signs of any disease starting up. You might call your municipal arborist for information also. It could just be environmental stressors like the hot dry summer and pollutants.

I would not go crazy climbing around the thing if branches are especially brittle but you can get the new LED outdoor lights, 100 or 500 per string, programmable for color and blinking pattern if you want, for next to nothing. They are certainly not going to weigh down the limbs and you might as well enjoy it with whatever lights you have on it.

Maybe it has a depressive illness and lighting it up will make it and all people around especially happy?
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:27 AM   #7
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Making a blue spruce healthier


Like Steve said maybe your tree is SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Good idea with the drilling to get the fertilizer to the roots. It will be hit and miss with the ability to get deeper than a few inches up on the Canadian Shield
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:37 AM   #8
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Making a blue spruce healthier


I forgot to mention you want to auger and feed out around the dripline. Food near the trunk of a tree serves little purpose. You can get hand augers that work just fine or one to attach to a power drill. You probably need something hefty though. Until they fill in, the channels you carve with the auger for food and filler will also provide a nice path for water to get down nearer the roots.

If you do auger, you might as well save some of the soil and have it tested as part of a whole yard test if you have never had one. They are not expensive and maybe available free where you are. Soil tests with recommendations for ammendments and nutrient requirements can save you lots on fertilizers and especially plants.

Last edited by user1007; 10-01-2012 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 10-01-2012, 04:53 PM   #9
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Making a blue spruce healthier


Quote:
Originally Posted by bob22 View Post
After reading: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distrib...re/dg7410.html
Spring is really the best time to fertilize a tree (if it needs it after a soil test).
Feeding in the fall/winter may cause plant to push growth at the wrong time of year.
Make sure it gets water more than anything.

not so
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Old 10-01-2012, 05:03 PM   #10
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Making a blue spruce healthier


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Originally Posted by chrisn View Post
not so
Chris is right and absolutely not true for conifers. And I would stick my neck out and deep feed any tree, perhaps without large doses of nitrogen, in the Fall.

Other question and I forget to ask? Where is your spruce in its cone cycle? By nature and onboard survival mechanisms it would have diverted almost all energy, even in a drought, to see to its young.

I honestly forget how pines, spruce, and all work. With some cones are continuous and with some it is cyclical every few years. I do know that spruce produce male and female cones on the same tree. I think only hundreds of cheap, programmable led lights could, you know, make the tree really happen through some sort of artificial jolt and connection.

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Old 10-01-2012, 06:33 PM   #11
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Making a blue spruce healthier


Thanks for the tips. I will have to check the cones when I'm off work, so I can do it in the daylight. I have not noticed any on it, but never really looked for them either.

For the auger idea, I just make a bunch of holes around the tree (like within 10 feet or so?) and put fertilizer in it? Any special type I should buy, I imagine there is some made specificity for conifers?

So is fall really the best time? I would figure end of June/start of July once the snow is melted would be the best time but I wont doubt your expertise. So I will do it as soon as I can before the ground freezes. We still get hot days here and there, like today it was +13 or so.

While were on this topic, what about cedar hedges, is it pretty much the same process? I may do those too. Mine are in rough shape, mostly from the abuse they've gotten from the work I did last year and this year.
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Old 10-02-2012, 04:55 AM   #12
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Making a blue spruce healthier


Yes, fall ( now) is best.

a balanced( 10,10,10) is what I remember

apply at the drip line of the tree
amount? read the directions on the bag, but in general, maybe a cup or so per hole, with holes maybe a foot and a half apart
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:50 AM   #13
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Making a blue spruce healthier


Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisn View Post
Yes, fall ( now) is best.

a balanced( 10,10,10) is what I remember

apply at the drip line of the tree
amount? read the directions on the bag, but in general, maybe a cup or so per hole, with holes maybe a foot and a half apart
This sounds right to me and I would not go higher than 12 percent or so for nitrogen since you are feeding a conifer. It was expensive even before Scotts bought it but Osmocote was a great time released fertilizer. They used to make tree planting pellets and I specified them routinely for new trees in my landscape design.

Berry's Best was also a great general purpose balanced fertilizer and was much cheaper. I could not find it via Google.

The three numbers, by the way, refer to the NPK ratio of the fertilizer in the sack or bottle. Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium. A 100 pound sack of fertilizer marked 10-10-10 has 10 pounds of each or 30 pounds of actual nutrients. The rest is coatings to pellitize the fertilizer and other inert ingredients that do not need to be disclosed in the US. Heavy metal wastes---chrome, cobalt, etc.--- from the semiconductor and harddrive industries are showing up under such lack of disclosure laws.

Unless you really need the immediate gratification of a pretty tree on the packaging? And I will send you one instead? Buy fertilizer in bulk at your local feed and seed place, or from a wholesale nursery. Get a tight Rubbermaid container to stick it in and buy your wife or girlfriend flowers with the money you saved over retail packaging.
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:40 PM   #14
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Making a blue spruce healthier


scrape back the dirt underneth the tree to form a water pool area then get a couple of bags on organic manure and a 5 gallon bucket...dump 1/2 the bag in the bucket fill with water and thin it out. then pour it into the pooled area let it go repeat that every week
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:22 PM   #15
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Making a blue spruce healthier


Make sure there is a good supply of water to the root systems. Evergreens can suffer over winter because of the dehydration during that period in many areas. If they do nott dry out, they will be stronger the next year.

Dick

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