Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Are baldcypress trees (Taxodium distichum) self-fertile
March 06, 2011 - We are considering planting a bald cypress in a grassy children's play area that has fair amount of clay in the soil and receives a good amount of rain water from an adjacent slope. This seems a good...
view the full question and answer

Plants for the Shade of a Pine Tree in Pittsburg
June 03, 2013 - I live in Pittsburgh, PA. My neighbor has a huge pine tree. Last year everything I planted on that side near the tree died. That part of the yard only gets morning sun, as the tree overshadows it. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Bird-friendly plants for the Texas coast
July 13, 2012 - I'm interested in starting a native plant garden, specifically with an eye towards providing food (either from the plants or insects that are attracted to the plants) for migratory birds. However, s...
view the full question and answer

Sap dripping from a lacey oaks in San Antonio
September 06, 2012 - I have a lacey oak tree, approximately 6 ft. tall that has been in the ground almost a year. The tree looks healthy but there is a small area on the trunk that looks and feels wet. The substance is s...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in desert willow in Austin
November 09, 2011 - We planted a desert willow 5 days ago. It came in a 15-gallon pot but the tree is quite large (~10 ft) with a wide spread. We watered thoroughly during planting but have not watered since (light rai...
view the full question and answer

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