I have purchased a potted blue spruce and need to keep it alive over the winter till spring when ground thaws. need help. thinking i’ve overwatered as the smell of water is quite sharp and needles are already dropping . hopeing the needle thing is normal.

Hi Kelly, spruce trees are lovely, but they belong outdoors and are really not happy inside. I’m not sure if you just plan on keeping it alive until spring, or you want to use it as a Christmas tree. The dry air, forced air heat, lack of light and many other factors indoors can cause them to have a number of problems.

The dropping of the needles is an indication that all is not well with it, and overwatering won’t help. Spruce trees as well as other evergreens do tend to lose a few needles, but they will never normally lose all of them from a branch – they won’t produce more from a branch that has lost them all.

Here are a few suggestions that might help; if you have a porch or other outdoor area, put the tree outside – a deck with sliding glass doors enables you to enjoy the tree, while not killing it completely.

I suggest insulating the pot by putting it inside another larger one, or in a bag of fall leaves to prevent root damage. If you have a sheltered place outside, you can do this there too.

Check and see if you can see any webbing on the needles; some pests like spider mites love the dry conditions of your home, and will thrive. Spray with a light spray of water.

Don’t in this case use anything with soap in it, because you will destroy the ‘bloom’ or the waxy coating – the needles are a boring old green underneath, so you’ll lose the characteristic blue color.

This is a temporary issue, and the tree will regrow the bloom over time, so if appearance isn’t important at this stage, feel free to spray with insecticidal soap.

Aphids are another pest that you can bring in – check for tiny white cast off skins around the tips of the branches. If this is the case, you won’t likely have much success getting rid of them easily.

Hope this gives you a few options,