Why Are Blue Spruces Struggling in Michigan?

Have you noticed that something strange is happening to many of the blue spruces in the state of Michigan? If you’ve seen blue spruces with brown needles on the lower half, then you’ve seen signs of blue spruce decline. Unfortunately, blue spruce decline is rapidly spreading around the state, and there are a number of causes at play causing the blue spruces’ problems, says Michigan Public Radio.

First off, there’s climate. These pines are actually not native growing in Michigan, and for decades they have been growing in a location that is not their natural habitat. Blue spruce pines are native to the Rocky Mountain region, which is a much less humid climate, which has exposed blue spruces in Michigan and the surrounding region to increased problems with fungal pathogens, which thrive in more humid climates.

Michigan State University Extension says that some of the fungal diseases that blue spruces are susceptible to include needlecasts, which is when the trees shed their needles prematurely due to the presence of fungus; tip blights, which are fungal infections that cause dieback, or the dying of the lowest branches that slowly progresses toward the top of the tree; and canker disease, which is caused by fungi that infect the main branches or stems of the tree. Symptoms of canker disease include sunken areas along stems that ooze resin, ridges of wound tissue, and the death of branches. Other signs that your tree may be infected include bare branches, discolored needles and needle loss.

If you have a blue spruce on your property that you think might be at risk for any of the diseases that are commonly associated with this type of tree, the best thing to do is hire a professional to assess the damage and recommend a course of treatment. Certain pesticides can stave off the effects of fungal infections or insect infestations that could be harming your tree.

With the blue spruces’ difficulties in recent months, we may be able to suggest methods to stave off fungal infections or might recommend an alternate planting for you entirely. If you are getting ready to plant a blue spruce in your area, are facing problems with your existing blue spruce or are considering any other kind of shrubs, ferns or trees, give Cold Stream Farm a call at 231-464-5809 today and let us help you find the perfect plants for your property.