Phone: (585) 648-8864
Planting Instructions (Norway, White, & Blue Spruce)
Dig a hole twice as wide as the pot. Dig to a depth where the top of the potted soil is even with the ground. Start by filling in the hole with the loose dirt you just dug up leaving any sod until last. Break up any chunks of soil that came out and crumble them up until all the loose dirt has been added back to the hole. At this time you can take the hunks of sod and break them up in to smaller pieces. Place them on top of the dirt you already added. Try to pack them in firmly without putting a lot of pressure on the newly potted root ball.
If your hole is still not even with the ground then add more dirt on top from another source. If possible, simply dig some slices of earth with your shovel and lay them around the top of the hole. It is not a bad idea to do this (regardless) to ensure the hole does not sink in during the next winter. Simply add more dirt until the area around the pot is about 2" above the ground. It will flatten out with rain and weathering.
Water the tree after planting, if you can. If watering your spruce tree is not feasible at planting time then plant your spruce tree when the soil is moist.
Amending the Soil
You should not need to add any soil amendments to the natural dirt. Spruce trees are very hardy and they should be able to get everything they need even on the poorest of soils.
If you do decide to amend the soil, please DO NOT mix hardwood mulch directly in with the soil. Hardwood mulch with fixate all the nitrogen around the hole as it requires nitrogen to break down.
Mulching the top of the soil is fine but we would recommend you do not mulch your trees until they have been in the ground for one year. Rodents like mice love to dig in freshly planted mulch especially with a loose dirt beneath it. Wait until the next spring when the dirt has firmly settled before mulching.
Clear all the weeds around the hole if possible. This certainly will be dependent on your planting location. For spruce trees planted in lawns that are continuously mowed then this will not be an issue.
For property managers who are planting spruce for wildlife habitat, it is a little more difficult. If you can, return periodically with a machete or weed whacker to cut the weeds down directly around the tree eliminating competition and allowing plenty of sun.
If weed control is just not going to be ideal then consider the following:
Norway spruce is amazingly tolerant of heavy weeds. While we would recommend knocking them back if possible, their survival rate in such conditions is outstanding even for small trees. That being said, we would recommend planting Norway spruce that are at least 18" tall in such conditions.
White spruce is also tolerant of heavy weeds but given there moderate growing rate (12 - 18" per year) we would recommend planting trees that are at least 24" tall in such conditions.
Blue spruce is not tolerant of heavy weeds because it requires a lot of sun. We would recommend planting blue spruce that is at least 48" tall in such conditions if the weeds cannot be cut back.
Never plant a Norway, white, or blue spruce in full shade. All of your spruce trees will do best in full sun.
Norway spruce can tolerate some partial shading. However; we would recommend that there is at least 4 hours of full sun with the rest of the day being partial sun. Avoid areas that see long periods of full shade in the middle of the day.
White spruce is a great choice for partially shaded areas as long as it is just that - partial. Still, we would recommend your white spruce receives at least two hours of full sun per day. Avoid areas that see long periods of full shade in the middle of the day.
Blue spruce needs full sun. Blue spruce need to be planted in a location that receives at least 6 hours of full sun per day. Avoid areas that are partially or fully shaded in the middle of the day.
Protection from Whitetail Deer
Whenever possible, it is always best to protect your newly planted trees from whitetail deer. In our experience, Norway spruce does experience some deer browsing while white and blue spruce rarely seem to be touched. Browsing will not kill your tree. They will recover just fine. But you might lose a year of new growth until new buds form and new shoots emerge.
Buck rubs can happen on any tree. The only way to protect your spruce tree from buck rubs is to cage it until the spring of the year that the tree is at least 5' tall. By next fall it will be taller and thicker. Of course, this does not mean that a buck still will not rub it at that size. However; by the time your tree is this size the branches should be thick and stout. The buck likely will not be able to cause a rub that goes all the way around the trunk essentially girdling the tree.
Once again, the only way to ensure your tree will not get rubbed it to cage it until it reaches a size where rubbing is unlikely or rubbing cannot cause girdling of the tree.
As with soil amendments, fertilizing should not be required. If you must, wait until the tree has been in the ground for one year before fertilizing to ensure you do not burn any of the roots. Do no fertilize after June 15th to ensure all your new growth will harden off before the cold weather sets in.
Do not over fertilize. We would recommend only once in the spring. Excessive amounts of fertilizer can lead to non-uniform tree growth. Fertilize at the manufacturer recommended rate.
Your spruce trees should not require fertilizer unless some other environmental condition exists where it would be required.
Water your newly planted spruce trees in periods of hot, dry weather if possible. This is only important the first year they are in the ground. You can still water them in successive years but don't over-do it. Spruce trees do not require a lot of water. Once per week should be fine during periods of drought.
Do not plant your trees in areas that see long periods of standing water.
Blue spruce cannot tolerate wet areas. Avoid planting blue spruce in areas the get extremely wet throughout the year or experience long periods of wet soil.
Norway spruce is somewhat tolerant of wet areas as long as there is not any standing water.
White spruce is a great choice for wet areas but, once again, avoid areas that see standing water.
Some folks will build up mounds on top of wet areas to plant their spruce trees in. This will work but be advised that there is a strong chance that your spruce tree will topple over one day. Spruce trees, especially Norway and white, are very shallow rooted. Sooner or later the wet soil combined by the elevated mound could lead to an uprooted tree.