Colorado Blue Spruce Planting Guide: Tips On Caring For Colorado Spruce
When it comes to growing blue spruces, there are many things that you need to consider when choosing your location. These include soil type, climate zone, time of year, and the species of tree you want to plant. There are also other factors such as the number of plants you have planted and what kind of lighting they receive.
What Is Soil Type?
Soil type refers to the types of soil that a particular area of land is made up of. A sandy or loamy soil will not support a large amount of vegetation, while a clay soil will provide good drainage and water retention qualities. Most soils are classified into three main categories: loose, compacted, and consolidated. The most common types of soils are loose, compacted, and consolidated.
Loose Soil – Loose soil is generally considered to be any soil with little to no structure. This type of soil tends to hold moisture well and does not retain much heat during the day. However, it may become very hot at night due to evaporation from the ground surface.
When it rains, it usually doesn’t run off immediately since the soil is still loose so water pools up on top instead of running off quickly.
Compacted Soil – As you might have guessed, compacted soil is just as the name implies; it is soil which contains little to no space between the particles. The soil is very hard and cannot be penetrated by roots. It holds on to moisture and heat, so it doesn’t evaporate like looser soil.
Consolidated Soil – Consolidated soil is formed when loose soil is filled in and packed down over time. This soil is very hard to dig up. It may contain small rocks and other matter, but it has become one solid mass of soil over time.
What Is My Climate Zone?
A climate zone is an area where a particular set of plants can thrive based on the amount of rainfall, sunlight, and general weather patterns in that region. There are six main climate zones in the US, each with its own set of subzones. If you want to know more about your specific climate zone, you can look it up based on your zip code.
What Time Of Year Is It?
When selecting a location for your blue spruces, the time of year that you plant them is also very important. If you plant them in the fall, they will most likely survive the winter as long as there aren’t any major ice storms in your area. If you plant them in the spring, there is a greater chance that your new trees will suffer some damage due to the freezing and thawing of the soil during winter months.
What Kind Of Blue Spruce Do I Want?
There are several different types of blue spruces that you can plant. The Eastern Blue Spruce, Colorado Blue Spruce and the Blue Spruce Pine are just a few examples of some of the common types available at your local nursery or tree farm. Some grow bigger than others, some have a stronger more durable trunk and some grow more rounded in nature. Keep these things in mind when choosing which kind to plant.
What’s The Best Way To Prepare The Soil?
Spruces like to have a lot of room to grow, so pick a location where they will not be cramped or have their roots restricted, which may cause them to rot and die. You must also choose whether or not you want to plant them in the ground or in a larger container. In most cases, planting in the ground is much preferred because the trees will be stronger and healthier overall. If you choose to plant them in the ground, it is important to dig a hole for each tree large enough that the root system can be spread out. If you are planting them in the ground, it is best to use a mixture of Adirondack soil and peat moss.
The container you choose should be made of a porous material (wood is preferred since it allows for air to flow through). If you are planting in a container, it is best to choose one that is at least one and a half times as wide as the root system of the tree. In some cases, you can plant several trees in the same container.
It is best to pick a container that has a drainage hole so that the soil will not become water logged. It is important to remember that the container must also be large enough so that the roots do not become cramped. A good test to see if it is large enough, is to make sure the roots do not fill the container within two years.
It is important that the container be well drained and have a mixture that is light and airy, but will hold moisture. Never use a material that restricts air flow like plastic or a wooden container that has the pores completely sealed.
If you are planting your trees in pots, it is important to refresh the soil every few years as it breaks down. To do this, remove the tree from the pot and turn the pot upside down. Looking from the top, you want the smallest percentage of the pot to be comprised of drainage holes.
If there are less than ten holes, you should add more. This will prevent the pot from breaking due to excess water weight when you start adding soil.
Fill the pot three quarters full with your light, airy, well-draining potting soil mixture. Using a chopstick, bamboo skewer or any other similar item, remove the tree from its former container and gently tease out the roots so that they can be spread out in the new potting soil. You want to make sure there are no continuous lines of roots that are intertwined.
This will cause those roots to die due to lack of nutrition. Gently fill in around the root system and make sure there are no air pockets or holes. At this point, you can add a bit more soil if needed.
As soon as the tree is planted in its new container, water it well so that the potting soil is evenly wet throughout. Place it in a location where it will receive full sun, but will not be excessively hot. Keep the soil moist, but not water logged for the first year.
How Can I Tell If My Tree Is Alive?
It is important to know if your tree is alive when you receive it. There are a few telltale signs that can help you to determine this.
The first sign is the presence of buds. During the dormant season, many conifers will have what are called “candles”. These are small vertical shoots that will slowly grow during the growing season.
They will look like thin matchsticks and can easily be snapped off if they are fresh. This means that the tree is alive.
The second sign is the needles themselves. Needles that are fresh and green are a sure sign that the tree is alive. Dried, brown needles are a sure sign that the tree was collected earlier in the year and died before it was sold to you.
How Can I Tell If My Shipped Tree Is Alive?
It is almost impossible to tell if a tree is alive just by looking at it through a box. There are a few basic tips that can help you though.
When you first open the box, the biggest thing to look for is needles. Needles that are dark green are usually a good sign. Brown or dried out needles are not a good sign and are a sign that the tree may be dead or dying.
Also when you first open the box, take a look at the tips of the branches.
Are they green? Or are they brown?
Green is good. Brown is not good.
Take a look at the pot.
Is the soil loose? Or is it hard and crusty?
A hard, crusty pot is usually a sign that the tree has been water logged and died. If so, it can sometimes be saved by quickly repotting it and making sure that you don’t water it too much.
Does the tree have any buds?
If so, it is definitely worth saving.
Also, does the tree have any bugs on it?
Aphids are a common sign of drought stress. White fluff on the ends of the branches is a common sign of mealy bugs. Either of these can quickly kill a tree, so if you see either one of these problems, again it’s time to repot immediately and then keep the tree hydrated.
How Do I Keep My Tree Alive?
The most important thing to remember about the health of your tree is that it needs to always have soil that is not excessively wet or dry. When you receive your tree, before you plant it in its final spot, place a saucer (or something similar) under the pot and fill it with water. Let the soil absorb all of the water from the saucer before you remove it from the box. This will ensure that the soil is evenly hydrated and will help to avoid water logging or drying out in the future.
After repotting, it is common for bonsai trees to experience a “bonk” as some people call it. This just means that your tree will lose all of its leaves for a short period of time. Don’t worry, this is normal and is the tree’s natural defense mechanism.
It will grow new leaves when it feels comfortable in its new soil.
Fertilize your tree monthly (or according to the instructions on the bottle) with a high quality granular fertilizer that has a 3:1:2 or 4:1:2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Always water the soil before and after applying fertilizer to ensure that it is not washed away.
Sources & references used in this article:
Natural variation among seedlings from Colorado sources of blue spruce by KE Diebel, GH Fechner – Western Journal of Applied Forestry, 1988 – academic.oup.com
Importance of mycorrhizae to Ponderosa pine seedlings by F Appelquist, PL Solutions – 2009
Evergreens at Dickinson Agricultural Experiment Station by E Wright – Forest Science, 1957 – academic.oup.com
Planting Engelmann spruce by TJ Conlon – Bimonthly Bulletin; 13: 5; May/Jun 1951, 1951 – lib.ndsu.nodak.edu
Colorado flora: eastern slope, a field guide to the vascular plants by F Ronco – 1972 – books.google.com
Initial partial cutting in old-growth spruce-fir by WA Weber, RC Wittmann – 2012 – books.google.com
We gratefully acknowledge the assistance and advice of CL Kramer and WC Nesmith. by RR Alexander – 1972 – books.google.com