My beautiful silver tree was under such an attack and I was ignoring it - until this spring, when I saw some branches had started to dry.

Any fir tree needs lots of space to grow

I planted my silver fir tree 12 years ago, when it was just one and a half feet tall. It grew healthy and beautiful, year after year. However, all other plants that I planted did too. And I planted lots of plants, all over my garden. Although I knew that the silver fir tree will grow tall and wide in diameter at some point, and will require lots of space around it, I planted a lilac in its vicinity. At first, the lilac was just a stick, but over the years it grew into a strong bush. Its branches almost braided with the silver fir tree's branches, but that didn't bother me at all. I was happy to see them growing so big and beautiful.

My silver fir and the blooming purple lilac next to it were looking healthy before the scales attack

Regular pruning and spraying keeps trees healthy and beautiful

Once a year, usually on Christmas- I prune the lower branches of my both fir trees, which makes them grow faster. I have to admit that I neglected the silver fir tree and didn't prune it every year, as I should have. However, I just didn't want to get in touch with those sharp needles. I pruned it every time I saw it had dry branches which was mostly during winter, since there was more space around it. In the summer, when the lilac bush was full of leaves, it was covering half of the silver fir tree's foliage and was almost crowding it. It didn't occur to me to check it, since the part of its foliage that I could see, was beautiful and healthy. Or, so I thought- until this last winter.

Scale attacked my silver fir tree and made it sick

As you all know, fruit trees are best pruned during winter, when they have no leaves. I often do the same for the lilac bushes. Last winter, I planned to prune that particular one, which was too close to the silver fir tree anyway, so my beautiful silver tree could breathe and grow properly. But I had the most unpleasant surprise. I found many dry silver fir branches, that I had to prune too. Only the ugliest surprise was yet to come. When I looked closer at both dry and green branches of the silver fir tree, I saw clusters of scales on each node of the twigs. That was the explanation for the dry branches, my poor silver fir tree has been suffering of a strong scale attack and I didn't even know about it. It was crying for help and I wasn't there for him from the beginning, to cut back all of his distress. However, I was there now and decided to do my best to heal it and bring back its beauty and health.

Scales on the silver fir tree twigs

What are scales and how do they harm a tree?

These ugly scales are small insects which hide under the brown scales, stuck to the tree's twig. That makes them even more difficult to destroy. Under that scale, the insects are feeding on the plant's sap, which causes a huge distress to the plant and susceptibility to other plant diseases.
I tried to find an explanation for the strong scale infestation on only half of the fir tree. Being crowded by the lilac bush, that part of the silver fir tree retained more humidity and heat (so air didn't circulate) which facilitated the scales' expansion throughout half of the branches. They kept on feeding on the tree's sap, until most of the crowded branches died and dried.

My tree needed a special treatment for a quick healing

I realized that the scales weren't bothered at all on the part of the tree, where insecticide didn't reach. They were controlled on the side of the tree where I sprayed with insecticide a few times a year, next to an an apricot tree. Involuntarily, that part of the silver fir tree was getting sprayed over too and that kept it healthy and green, while the other half, in the back, was drying out.
First, I trimmed back all the dry branches and twigs. I trimmed and trimmed and when I finished, my silver fir tree was looking like cut in two because I had to prune half of its branches, almost to the top. I pruned the lilac bush too, so that it won't crowd the silver fir tree anymore.

My silver fir tree after pruning looks like cut in half
After the first step was done, the second followed. After pruning the dry branches, I started to spray the fir tree with specific scale insecticide, all over it, to destroy all the scales that could be hiding inside the healthy branches. I even consulted a specialist in horticulture and plant disease and she recommended a few treatments with different insecticides and copper fungicide, for other diseases that the silver fir tree might be infected with in its weakened state.
Later in the spring, after two treatments, the silver fir tree was showing signs of revival and had sprouts, like it always had, every spring. However, it will need regular pruning and spraying, so I can keep it alive and beautiful.

Buy copper fungicide here

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commissions at no cost to you.