Tree Care Colorado Spruce


Landscaping trees are a significant investment and trees don’t like to be moved! Thus design and preparation of the planting location are an important part of the planning. Water will be needed in spring and fall (at least) and should be easily available to the site. Newly planted trees will need care to overcome transplant shock.

Transplant shock is the result of disturbing the root system of the tree. The larger the tree, the greater the risk and the larger spade is required for digging. Upon transplanting, the tree will be working to re-establish the root system – a process that may take up to three years. In this time, it is essential that the tree have adequate moisture to establish new roots – that means enough water but not too much. Spruce do not thrive in wet sites – they need moist but not saturated soils. Soils differ significantly and you will need to learn your specific water requirements. Checking for water once every 2 to 3 weeks, especially in the first year is important. If there has been no rain, it is highly likely watering is needed.

Spruce Tree Care

Monitoring trees

It is a good idea to monitor trees, especially new ones, throughout the growing season. Of course, attention to watering is needed during dry spells, throughout the summer, and into the fall.

In the spring, you may notice browning of the needles – this is winter damage. This occurs due to moisture loss during the winter, often due to winds. Usually, the new buds are still viable and will produce new growth and the loss of injured needles is minimized. Thorough watering in October, before freeze-up, will help prevent winter damage.

In most cases, the tree will still put out new growth – watch for this in June and July.

As we move from spring into summer, the new growth is lush and insect activity will be at it’s peak. Colorado Spruce have few insect pests – there are a couple we have noticed at 3 Leaf Farm.

Spruce sawfly larvae

Spruce sawfly larvae may be feeding on the tender needles, leaving ends of branches bare. The larvae are active in June and early July. They can be hand picked or washed off with a spray of water. If the sawfly population increases so that whole branches are bare, you should consult an arborist to discuss chemical controls.

White pine weevil

White pine weevil attacks the terminal leader of Colorado Spruce. This pest is new to North-western Alberta. Adult weevils spent the winter in leaf litter. In spring, females emerge from the ground and crawl up the bark to the top of a nearby tree. They can also fly a great distance to the top of another host. They feed on tissue just below the terminal bud, and soon after, they lay their eggs within the feeding sites. The eggs hatch into grub-like larvae that bore into the terminals, resulting in wilting and tip dieback, which is evident by mid summer. At the first sign of wilting (in summer), prune out the shoot and destroy by burning. (the larvae will be inside)

Not all pests are insects

Yellow bellied sap sucker will also damage trees – see photos below. Generally the tree recovers with time unless the tree is girdled – then it will likely die.