Dwarf Alberta Spruce Health

About a year ago, I acquired a Dwarf Alberta Spruce that was in great health. About 9 months back, I gave it its first styling with aluminum wire, setting primary and secondary branching. Over the course of the summer and fall, some branches and pads have slowly started to lose color in the needles, turning a speckled white or grey color. While certain branches remain green and appear healthy, others have developed a white/grey at the tip and throughout the needle. The affected needles aren’t falling off, but I wonder if the discoloring will affect photosynthetic ability and ultimately kill the tree.

In the Q&A, Ryan has said he is going to start giving Alberta Spruce a shot in hopes to dispel some of the issues around the species, and he also mentioned they tend to not take to wiring very well.

I am wondering if this health issue is due to pests such as spider mites, or a root related issue. I was planning or repotting the tree come early spring. On one hand, I want to see if this is a root issue that can be examined and correct course during a repot. On the other, I’m not sure the tree is in good enough health to survive a repot.

Any advice on the species would be much appreciated.

I’m guessing from looking at the girth of that trunk in relation to the size of the pot that it might be root bound.
So there is a potential for a root related issue.
You might try slip potting the tree. You can then examine the roots and the tree will be setup in the spring with some room for growth.

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Hi! When I zoom in to the close up shot, it looks as though there might be spider mite damage. I have to spray my spruces for them. If the tree became stressed-pot bound possibly- then the pests move right in. Have you checked under the needles with a magnifying glass?

Thank you, I was definitely thinking of doing this.

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Thanks Lani, I haven’t used a magnifying glass but I did rewatch Ryan’s stream on pests and did the spider mite test. I did use a spray on the needle mass after that.

Had a similar issue on a tree I acquired. It was in crummy soil and had been watered with high alkaline water to the extent it was building up on the bark and needles. I repoted it in good soil and use better water and lots of bio gold. I also don’t Let it get full midday sun, Morning only. It’s done really well. Crazy back budding. I’ve seen a lot of these “burn” up as landscape trees in my area. I’ve noted that ones in partial shad do better. Spider mites might be an issue. They are easy to diagnose, a little tricky to treat. If you’re worried about it, you can spray the foliage really well when you water. If that doesn’t do it, you got go with chemicals.

You mentioned me they don’t take wiring well: I wired my Dwarf Alberta Spruce in August and had to remove the wires in October due to biting in. It held fairly major bends with almost zero bounce back. I think timing is important. I got it for the fall vascular growth period and it worked like a charm.