Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Dreaded Canker Disease

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, NJ Garden Coach and Speaker,Mary Elaine Stone, Garden of Life, Spruce Canker Disease, Canker Disease

Hello Fellow Readers,

Hector and Judy of Morristown NJ, longtime clients become friends, have a “Big and Little” vignette of blue spruces that have begun to decline. Their little blue looks as though the needles were stripped from the lower branches. “Did the deer do this to my baby blue spruce,” asked Judy? I wish it were the deer as the problem would be easier to manage. (Spruces remain highest in deer resistance.) Their “Big and Little” have the dreaded canker disease which is killing off stands of spruces.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, NJ Garden Coach and Speaker,Mary Elaine Stone, Garden of Life, Spruce /canker Disease, Canker Disease

Judy and Hector’s “Big and Little” Blue Spruces

Penn State Extension Office reports both blue and Norway spruce are susceptible to the branch killing disease, though in our area blue spruce seem most impacted. Its caused by the fungus cytospora kunzei. Trees over fifteen years old are most often infected though younger trees can also contract the slow-moving disease.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, NJ Garden Coach and Speaker,Mary Elaine Stone, Garden of Life, Spruce Canker Disease, Canker Disease

The tree tops look healthy but the lower branches have died

You’ll first notice a reddish to brownish cast on branches leading to an obvious browning of the needles which eventually fall off. It typically starts from the lower branches and makes its way up. You may notice yellowish-brown, purplish-white or white patches of resin on the bark.

When weakened or stressed, as with all living things, trees are more susceptible disease. Both too much water and draught stresses spruces. We’ve had consecutive seasons of draught which no doubt has added to the devastation. Be sure of proper irrigation and that the soil drains well. Deep root fertilization is recommended to stimulate growth to help fight canker disease. Fertilizing may also encourage new growth in the smaller naked areas, but rarely will large dead areas fill back in. Cut off the diseased branches to the nearest healthy lateral branch or to the trunk. Only prune when the tree is dry as wetness will encourage the spores to spread. Sadly fungicides are not effective as the fungus infects wounded tissue but can remain dormant with no symptoms and therefore fungicides cannot be successfully timed.

One of my pet peeves are lower branches cut off evergreen trees which looks as bad as wearing knee-high pantyhose with a short skirt. There were three mature beefy blues on our property I adored that were infected with canker disease. Despite a top “don’t” desperate measures sometimes overrule. I kept the three beauties going for a handful of years by limbing up the unsightly branches and planting Bottlebrush Buckeye below to fill in the trees gnarly knees. About the time the Aesculus parviflora grew to be head high, it was the time to cut down the poor blue spruces. Still, it was hard to destroy trees whose tops seemed healthy. Sometimes you just must let things go. But never where knee-high pantyhose with a short skirt. Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, NJ Garden Coach and Speaker,Mary Elaine Stone, Garden of Life, Spruce Canker Disease, Canker Disease

Both Blue and Norway Spruce can be infected with canker disease

How canker disease spreads: You may not see the fungus which enters through wounds as the disease can remain dormant until the tree becomes stressed. Then small cankers form with thousands of spores though they are hard to see. When the diseased tree becomes wet the spores ooze out in yellowish strands that splash spores onto other branches.

Judy wrote: I’m “feeling very Hollywood to be featured in your article.” To which I responded, “You are Hollywood. Here you are carrying your bouquet on the red carpet. You look so “glam.”  

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, NJ Garden Coach and Speaker,Mary Elaine Stone, Garden of Life, Spruce Canker Disease, Canker Disease

Judy making use of her Smoke Bush trimmings/ Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer, NJ Garden Coach and Speaker,Mary Elaine Stone, Garden of Life, Spruce Canker Disease, Canker Disease

Norway Spruce with early stages of canker disease. Deep root fertilization and proper irrigation may save the tree!

 

 

 

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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