I cut the leader back … Too much herbicide can kill plants. spruce dying from top-down. We have a tall (50-foot) blue spruce in our front yard in northern Indiana. Indeed, even with a healthy amount of rainfall, your tree may not be getting the water it needs to flourish and endure the seasons. Is this caused by insect infestation or something else? I have found no insects on the plant and the remaining part of the plants appears healthy. I this is a disease Earlier this year, after one of the growth "spurts" we noticed the central leader no longer stood straight up. The following will help you identify and name the cause of your tree’s decline: Evergreen Tree Diseases. Symptoms include thinning foliage and dieback of branches. NEEDLECAST – This disease is extremely common in conifers and causes very obvious symptoms. As with any tree health problem, the first step in dealing with declining spruce trees is to diagnose the problem and identify the cause. For large or important landscape trees, homeowners should contact a professional arborist or tree care company. gardener-nh. It would grow at a couple feet a year. The most common sign that your evergreen tree is stressed and potentially dying is the browning of a section or the entirety of the tree. When a tree begins to deteriorate from the top down, t his condition is also known as dieback. The top of the tree, known as a crown as well, is one of the most important parts of your tree. The rest of the tree is healthy and shows no other damage. One was a cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia), and the other, a Texas red oak (Quercus buckleyi).The cedar elm was fairly young, only about 8 feet tall, when its top died. The leaders and the topmost branches have turned brown, and it seems to be spreading downward. 11 years ago. Trees affected by air pollution usually die from the top down. Q: The leader on our 15-foot Serbian spruce died about 1 foot down. 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