WSU Extension


Common Cultural Problems
Air pollution 
Construction damage 
Desiccating wind 
Drought damage 
Fertilizer burn 
Frost injury 
Hail damage 
Lime-induced chlorosis 
Marginal leaf necrosis 
Morphological changes 
Mosses and lichens 
Needle loss 
Needle tip necrosis 
Nutrient deficiency 
Overwatering or poor drainage 
Plant girdling and circling roots 
Poor pollination 
Salt damage 
Transplant shock 
Winter desiccation 
Winter injury 

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Caption: Spruce needle tip necrosis
Photo by: R.S. Byther
Common Cultural : Needle tip necrosis
(revision date: 4/30/2013)

Needle tip necrosis can be caused by numerous factors that restrict the flow of water to the leaves, such as drought, salt damage (fertilization), root rot, cankers, excessive heat, and chemical injury. It is similar to marginal leaf necrosis, but occurs on needled plants such as pine, spruce, or fir and involves dieback of the needle from the tip downwards toward the stem.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Apply an organic mulch over the root zone to reduce water evaporation from the soil and to modify soil temperatures.
  • Fertilize moderately.
  • Improve drainage if the soil is soggy.
  • Irrigate plants as needed to keep soil moist.
  • Match plant species/varieties to the environment.
  • Proper planting techniques can prevent problems. Break up and spread matted circling roots to ensure good root growth into the surrounding soil.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

None recommended


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Caption: Spruce needle tip necrosis
Photo by: R.S. Byther