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Martin, Electrical Engineer
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 4944
Experience:  Design, construct, fix and grow stuff around and in the home.
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I live in Colorado at 8000' and had 2 blue spruce planted in

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I live in Colorado at 8000' and had 2 blue spruce planted in a memorial garden last summer. About 2 months later I noticed drooping at the tips of the branches and they turn purple or brown and died. I notice it has worsened. Is there anything I can do?
JA: What kind of climate are you in?
Customer: Mountain climate at 8000' - we are living at the west gate to Rocky Mountain National Park
JA: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?
Customer: Yes
JA: Anything else we should know to help you best?
Customer: Can I spray - what can I do to save the tree? Do you know what it might be?

Those probably suffered from humid air and hot temperature. The blue come from a waxy coating they produce to protect from dry winter air, they have very few defence from humid air.
Most tree are best planted in early spring or in fall when in dormency.

You may also got symptome of spruce decline:

The only thing i know to help them is to prune lower limb to allow a dry area and burn those limb to kill any spores. The place you plant the trees is important, they need to be in a position where they can dry fast after a rain (from wind and sun).

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Where we live inn Colorado we do not have humid air and moderate summer temps. The lower branches are not dying but rather the tips look like they wilt and then turn brown or purple. I still don't know how to handle this.

As the tree is closely related to white spruce (essencially a white spruce adapted to dry condition), look at this guide and tell me if you see similarity with what you have:

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
It looks like the "late spring frost" problem - tips wilt, brown and die

If it was frost the tree may start a new bud from the stem at some place (lower than the last year new growth) and you could straithen this into a new up leader and cut the dead leader at one point.
On conifer it is sometime possible to trigger faster such a new bud by doing a very fine notch in the bark.
It will greatly impact the gowth and if you want a big tree, plating one new might be faster than waiting for a recover, if you do, plant in early spring or late fall, not in summer. That type of tree is adapted to your area but some nursery have tree selected for their blueness instead of their hardiness, so a native tree will always beat a nursery one.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I have contacted the County Extension Service here in the area and one of their employees has told me he will come out and look at the trees. They cost me $1200 for 2 for I am reluctant to plant a new one! He thinks it might be due to transplant shock and I hope to get some more specific information from him as he knows our area. Thanks for your help anyway

$600 each! how tall where they when they planted them?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
They were 15' - my wishes were to have a Memorial Garden to honor my parents with these trees as well as aspens and I planted some perennial bushes / flowers in the mound as well. We had a drip system put in and a covering of landscape paper and bark mulch. The whole project was $4000 so you can see why I am concerned that the "centerpiece" trees are not looking good!

That is tall. They must really have badly adapted as he mentioned (transplant shock). It take quite a bit of root ball to allow such a big tree to survive. It also require a long period of constant water drip watering until it make a new root system that extand far enough from that root ball.

One problem that can happen in such a transplant is if the local dirt contain clay while the tree root ball does not and have a softer content. Then the water can pool in there and cause root rot (that spruce is not tolerant to stagnant water like black spruce it). Also, Aspen are big water sucker. On open area where i have some cluster of aspen the soil become almost desertic on south side. It is possible that because they re-grew root faster than spuce that they monopolized the water if you planted them closeby.

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