Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - October 25, 2008

From: Cleveland, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Proper time of year to plant evergreens in New York
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Smarty Plants, Is it too late to plant evergreen Thuja, blue spruce and firs in Cleveland, New York? Vicki

ANSWER:

First, we had to determine what were your average first and last frost dates. From a website on Oswego County, we learned you had already had a temperature of 25 deg. on October 19. You appear to be in Zone 5b in the USDA Hardiness Zone Map, which means your average annual minimum temperatures can range from minus 10 deg to minus 15 deg.  From a Cornell University Gardening Resources site, Last Spring Frost in Northern New York, we found out your last average frost date is from April 10 to April 20.We believe that small new plants need all the chances they can get to survive, and having to face a blast of frigid air when they are freshly planted and still suffering from transplant shock probably reduces their chances considerably. We will consider each tree you asked about separately, but we feel the verdict on all of them is going to be the same-plant them after your last average freeze date in the Spring, April 10-20, and they will have a much higher survival chance.

All of these trees are native to North America, as well as to New York State. We are always happy to see our correspondents selecting trees native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown. They are more adapted to conditions and will need less fertilizer, water and maintenance. Follow each plant link to our webpage for information from our Native Plant Database and then the other links giving more planting and culture information. 

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) - Plants are susceptible to strong wind, snow, and ice damage, and young plants need protection from winter browsers. It's not bad enough they get their little branches frozen, but they get nibbled, perhaps to the ground, before they ever have a chance. More information from University of Connecticut Horticulture Thuja occidentalis

Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) - grow naturally in New York, foliage consumed by grouse, deer and elk. More information from University of Connecticut Horticulture Pseudotsuga menziesii

Picea pungens (blue spruce) - native to New York, for more information see this article from Virginia Tech on Blue Spruce. Pictures


Thuja occidentalis

Pseudotsuga menziesii
 

More Trees Questions

pruning Chinkapin oak, Loquat and Monterrey oak trees
December 07, 2012 - What is the best time to plant a 45-65 gal. Chinkapin oak tree in Pflugerville. Also, when can i prune fig trees, Loquat trees and a Monterrey oak. Thanks for the information.
view the full question and answer

Identity of tree in South Carolina
August 18, 2015 - I don't know if this is native as I'm new to South Carolina. This is a tree about 40' tall. The leaves are trilobal, 10" to a foot across/long and are trilobal, not glossy and have big veins. T...
view the full question and answer

Damage to native elm in Texas
August 20, 2008 - We had a major landscape renovation done over the winter. One of the trees, an elm about 10 yrs old, remained in the bed although plants around it were removed. The tree has suddenly started turning...
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant plants for under cedar and oak trees in Austin
June 22, 2010 - I have about 1.5 acres in southern Travis county. It's full of mature live oaks and cedar trees, and the soil is full of limestone. I've been gathering the limestone and using them to create raise...
view the full question and answer

Mid-sized tree that does not attract moths for Katy, TX
December 25, 2010 - I recently started to get interested in gardening. I live in Katy Texas and am looking for a medium sized tree I can grow in my backyard. I don't mind a tree that attracts birds or butterflies but I...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.