Proper planting is the key to the successful development of the tree. At the same time, mistakes in this matter can even lead to its loss.
Plant the Blue Spruce in early spring in a drained and nutritious substrate without deepening the trunk into the ground. Water with 2 gallons of water and mulch with a 2-inch thick layer of pine bark.
This is a brief description of how to plant correctly, I will cover this topic in great detail later in this article. Also, be sure to read the Blue Spruce Grower’s Guide.
When to plant?
The most suitable period for planting Blue Spruce is late winter or early spring. You need to catch the moment when the ground has already thawed and warmed up a bit, but the spruce has not yet begun to grow.
The second suitable period is mid-autumn. At this time, the sun is not as harsh as in summer, so it will be easier for the plant. In the fall you need to plant a month before the first frost.
Avoid planting in the heat of summer. If you do, you risk losing the plant. The roots may simply fail to deliver water to the needles and the plant will simply shrivel up.
The best weather for planting is cloudy and slightly humid. It is best to refrain from planting on a sunny and very windy day.
Water the spruce 2-3 days before planting with 1-2 gallons of water, depending on the size of the pot. This is to allow the plant to accumulate enough moisture.
Where to plant?
A fully or partially sunny location is the best place to plant a Blue Spruce. It needs enough sun to develop properly and has a beautiful blue color.
What you want to avoid is placing it in full shade. Because without direct sunlight, the needles will be green and the crown will be very loose. It is also rather humid in the shade and both of these factors will promote fungal diseases.
Also, make sure that there is good air exchange around the spruce. This means that it should not grow close to other plants or buildings.
The soil should be well-drained and at least somewhat nutritious. If you have sandy or clay soil in your yard, improve it with organic matter.
Avoid planting Blue Spruce close to a pond or stream. Also, water from a roof or other source should not flow near the spruce.
How to plant?
Dig a planting hole for the Blue Spruce twice as big as its roots (pot size). If you have a high water table or clay soil, fill the bottom of the hole with half a bucket of stones for drainage.
Fill the hole with partially improved soil (a mixture of native soil and soil conditioner). Place the spruce in the hole so that the trunk is not buried in the ground. At the end of the job, only the roots should be underground.
Fill all the free space in the planting hole with soil mix and lightly tamp it down. Then add more soil if necessary.
Water the newly planted spruce with 1 gallon of water. After an hour, water again. You may need to add more soil.
When planting, avoid damaging the roots and crown of the plant.
If you planted Blue Spruce in too sunny or hot weather, you need to shade it. Simply place a garden umbrella over the tree for a month. This will greatly reduce the sun’s exposure to the spruce and increase the chance of successful rooting.
The first thing to do immediately after planting is to mulch the spruce. The mulch will prevent the soil from overheating and quickly drying out. The mulch will also retain heat from the soil around the root in winter, which will also have a positive effect.
Use pine bark to mulch Blue Spruce. The layer should be at least 1 inch thick but no more than 4 inches. Do not put mulch on the trunk to avoid trunk rot.
Water the newly planted Blue Spruce as soon as 1-2 inches of soil on top is dry. Until the spruce is fully rooted, it is very sensitive to drought. The following year, watering can be reduced. Also avoid watering in the winter, except in too dry a winter.
Do not trim branches before or after planting. Pruning is additional stress which is not good for the newly planted plant. If necessary, trim it the year after planting but not before.
It is also not worth fertilizing the spruce in the first year since the plant will take root and does not need to waste its energy in creating large branches. Also, trees from nurseries are usually supplied with fertilizer for the year ahead.
Plant the Blue Spruce so that there is at least 2 to 3 feet of space between it and other plants. This is to ensure that the plant gets enough sun and good ventilation.
To calculate the distance to plant it from other trees, take the width of the crown at maturity and divide it by two and add 3 feet. Take the wild Blue Spruce for example, at maturity it can reach 20 feet, so plant it about 13 feet apart.
More compact varieties can be planted at a smaller distance. Of course, you can always control the size by pruning.
As for planting near buildings, Blue Spruce does not have overly aggressive roots and will not break foundations. But that doesn’t mean you can plant it very close to a wall. Measure at least 15 feet from the house and then plant.