En Español

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
1 rating

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

More Trees Questions

Fertilizing oaks to produce more acorns
March 04, 2009 - What type of fertilizer would I use on oak trees to possibly increase growth and acorn production ? I have some flooded oak timber that is home to migrating ducks but there is little for them to eat.
view the full question and answer

What is the best time of year to transplant a young pecan tree?
May 29, 2009 - What is the best time of year to transplant a young pecan tree?
view the full question and answer

Are Prunus minutiflora male and female flowers on different plants?
March 12, 2014 - I have a Prunus minutiflora and have recently learned the male and female flowers are on separate plants. How can I determine if I have a male or female plant?
view the full question and answer

Care in planting native Shumard oaks
April 16, 2008 - I am going to plant 3 shumard red oaks on the west side of my property. The land is basically rocky. What should I put in the holes to help the tree grow?
view the full question and answer

About Live Oak trees in Austin, Texas
October 19, 2009 - Hello, I planted a couple texas live oak two years ago in South Austin. They're about 5 feet tall. How long will it take for them to mature? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center