Browning Fir Tips - Help

Hello, all. I have what I believe is a Siberian Fir (Abies Sibirica). Someone please correct me if this is wrong. Should be possible to identify from the photos. Flat needles, green on top and two palish bands on the bottoms. Branches tend to droop, and the bark is pale grey and almost white sometimes. Overall color is kind of an olive yellowish green.

The tree was collected this past March or April. Don’t recall at the moment. Still cold. It had a good amount of field soil removed, but still has a significant amount around the roots, and was surrounded by pumice in a wooden box. The tree grew fantastically all spring and summer, but all of the sudden it’s turning brown at the growth tips, and also brown at the tips of all of the mature needles. It’s not looking good. It has been very hot here in Maryland (zone 7b) recently, and the tree has been in full sun for most of the day. I water regularly, but it’s possible I water too much. I have read (only since I noticed this issue) that Siberian Fir is very shade tolerant, and grows in moist conditions. Perhaps it’s been sunburned? That’s what it looks like to me. Can anyone advise on how I should treat it? Move to shade, I imagine. Should I prune the dead/dying tips? You’ll also see a strange yellowish area on top of the soil. I suspect a dog may have urinated on it at some point, but likely not more than once or twice. I have since moved it, and it’s been a while.

Please advise if possible. The colors in the last two pictures are more representative of the true color at the moment, since I moved it for those photos.

Thank you


Hi @mm1313
I can’t say what the problem is, but I would put the tree on the ground in a sheltered spot and only water when it needs it. At a guess, it looks like sun burn and over watering.

Are there ANY new buds forming? None obvious in the photos. Especially at tips. They should be obvious everywhere.
May have run out of stored energy, the roots might not be establishing.
Treat it carefully, out of the hot sun. Wait for spring.

@KurtP and @AndyK, thanks for the responses. I must admit that I am likely guilty of overwatering almost all of my trees. That could be the cause, or partial cause. But I do think the more likely culprit is sunburn. I don’t see any new buds on it really. The new growth came really well, but there doesn’t seem to be new buds. There are a number of dormant buds. I have moved it into an area where it gets light sun in the early morning and then shade for the rest of the day. I’ve been misting it for the last three days and I have not watered it. I suppose I’ll have to be very careful now with water. Any other comments or help would be much appreciated. I know you can only say so much.


This is the state your fir tips should be this time of year.
My alpine Fir was crazy healthy this summer.

I would baby yours. Store it where the roots will be (not cold) for the winter.

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Thanks @mm1313
I am starting to realise that the majority or problems we face with our trees are either directly or indirectly related to watering. If we don’t steady the balance of water and oxygen in the roots, we weaken the tree, leading to everything from reduced ability to deal with pests to climatic change, including sunburn.

@KurtP and @AndyK, thanks again. The tree is looking worse every day. Hopefully it pulls through, as I know it is still alive. The needles have yet to begin falling, so that’s a good sign. At any rate, I guess there isn’t much I can do. Another casualty of negligence and ignorance. The price of learning, I suppose. Shame, because I was (and still hesitantly am) excited about this tree.