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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.

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

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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!

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Thursday - August 30, 2012

From: Pingree Grove, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Transplanting a blue spruce from Pingee Grove IL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Transplant 18" Blue spruce from 5 gal. bucket to ground.

ANSWER:

We are sorry-is this a question or are you giving us an order? Since Mr. Smarty Plants is a team of volunteers answering native plant questions from our computers, we are pretty sure you are not expecting us to show up with shovels. So, we'll go with "Please give me instructions for transplanting an 18" blue spruce from a 5 gallon bucket into the ground in northeastern Illinois, USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 5b, with annual average minimum temperatures of -15 to -10 deg. F."

The first thing we need to know is what is Picea pungens (Blue spruce) doing in Illinois? If you follow the plant link to our webpage on this plant, you will learn its  normal native distribution:

Distribution

USA: AZ , CO , ID , MA , MD , ME , NM , NY , PA , UT , WY
Native Distribution: Mts. of w. WY & e. ID, s. to AZ & NM
Native Habitat: Mountain conifer forests

For confirmation of this, here is the USDA Plant Profile map on this tree. We found this USDA Forest Service article on the tree, which says it will grow at Zones 2 to 7a, so the cold in the environment is not a problem. It also says that while it likes a moist, acidic soil, it can also tolerate other soils. One aspect of the tree that we discovered in that article is that it generally grows at higher altitudes, like about 6750 ft. We could not ascertain the altitude of Kane County, IL.

Now all of this is not to say you can't grow it there. We just wanted to give you some lines of inquiry before you go to all that trouble, since we won't be bringing our shovels. From the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, here is an article on Growing Conifers, which includes planting information. From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, here is information from our Step by Step Guides on Transplanting a Tree.

 

From the Image Gallery


Blue spruce
Picea pungens

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