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Why are needles dropping off my Colorado Blue Spruce?

The Colorado Blue Spruce has been a mainstay in Illinois landscape for years. However, over the last couple years, the rise of a horticultural disease has made them less and less viable for the landscape.

Colorado Blue Spruce(1)

Why are needles dropping off my Colorado Blue Spruce?

Rhizosphaera needle cast has been recognized as a serious issue in Illinois by the Morton Arboretum and you can read about why Colorado Blue Spruce are dying here. If your trees are dropping needles and dying, needle cast is the most likely culprit. This fungal disease tends to arrive during the warm, wet months of spring and originally presents with needles yellowing and dropping off from the bottom. It can take 3-4 years for the disease to progress and eventually kill the plant.

Needle Drop In Colorado Blue Spruce

image of colorado blue spruce

This disease isn't new and can be controlled with close monitoring and by spraying the plants with fungicide to protect them. However, at this time, we have decided to no longer carry and sell the Colorado Blue Spruce or any cultivars of Picea pungens.

This specific disease is primarily limited to the Colorado Blue Spruce, which is fortunate for homeowners looking for an evergreen or spruce tree for their yard. Here are three suggestions for alternatives to the Colorado Blue Spruce.

Please note that we do NOT recommend planting a different Spruce variety in a spot that a Colorado Blue Spruce was removed due to disease. 

Alternative Evergreen & Spruce Trees to the Colorado Blue Spruce

Serbian Spruce

Silvery undersides to the even green needles give this Spruce a blue-green color from afar. Like any evergreen, a spot with good drainage is essential to its health and survival.

Paul's Select Norway Spruce 

This dwarf cultivar of the tried and true Norway Spruce has the closest blue color to Colorado Spruce. It matures to 10-12' tall and 4-6' wide making it an excellent replacement option for smaller Colorado Spruce varieties such as Baby Blue Eyes.

Canaan Fir

This Fir is an offshoot of Balsam Fir that was discovered in Appalachia. It is more tolerant of Illinois soils compared to Balsam, Douglas, Fraser, and Concolor Firs. Care should still be taken when selecting a site for these beautiful trees, however. Pick a spot that is sunny and well drained. We usually recommend high, well drained and sunny area for all evergreen trees.

We have additional options available at our garden center. This just represents a small group of the alternatives we may suggest when we learn your needs. Reach out to us or visit our garden center this spring for more assistance choosing the right evergreens for your landscaping.

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