According to Ward Upham, K-State Horticulture Response Center, reports of evergreen trees in numerous areas of the state are dying suddenly. Probably the most common tree to go down has been blue spruce, but pines and even some eastern redcedars are expiring as well.

According to Ward Upham, K-State Horticulture Response Center, reports of evergreen trees in numerous areas of the state are dying suddenly. Probably the most common tree to go down has been blue spruce, but pines and even some eastern redcedars are expiring as well.


The cause in most cases seems to be stress-related. Not just stress from recent events, but accumulated stress from the last several years. We have had two very hot, dry summers, as well as a warm and very dry winter in 2011-2012. Even if we have excellent growing conditions from now on, we still may lose trees, especially in areas where factors other than the weather are stressing trees. For example, most of the redcedar and pine deaths are in windbreaks where competition for water has weakened trees.

If you suspect you have stressed plants, try watering if conditions are dry and outside watering is allowed in your area. Trees should be watered every two weeks. Trees transplanted within the last couple of years should be watered every week. Do not water every day as tree roots need oxygen. Overwatering can be every bit as damaging as underwatering. Water to a depth of 12 to 18 inches if possible. Though this will not reach all the roots of a tree, it will reach the majority of them. Trees normally have at least 80 percent of their roots in the top foot of soil Shrubs should be watered every week to a depth of 8 to 12 inches.

Check depth of watering by pushing a wooden dowel or metal rod into the soil. It will stop when it hits dry soil.

Jonie James is a McPherson County Extension agent for agriculture.