White spruce (Picea glauca) has among the widest range of the conifers. It grows throughout Canada and much of the United States. Given time, it will eventually reach 60 feet in height and 20 feet in spread. You can also prune white spruce to hedge height, being careful to maintain the natural pyramid shape that allows light to reach the lower branches.
Choose Good Planting Sites
Though white spruce tolerates a wide variety of soil consistencies and acid levels, it does best in moist, acidic soil that is organic, sandy or loamy. Macphail Woods Nursery of Prince Edward Island recommends dry, wet loam. Soil should be well-drained to moderately drained. Avoid wet soils.
White spruce requires full sun to partial sun in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 6. It prefers full sun farther north. Too much shade will cause the white spruce to drop its lower branches.
Plant Seedlings Instead of Seeds
Plant young seedlings rather than seeds. White spruce seeds will likely end up eaten by wildlife. When purchasing your seedlings, look for ones already from 1 to 2 feet in height. The root mass should be dense and healthy.
Allow Adequate Room Between Trees
Even if you plan to restrict your white spruce to hedge height, space your trees to allow them adequate room to fill out. A 6-foot hedge requires trees be planted 2 to 2 1/2 feet apart. A shorter hedge can make do with just 1 1/2 feet of spacing.
Prevent Transplanting Shock
All plants are susceptible to transplanting shock, but the white spruce is particularly sensitive. To minimize shock, prepare the soil at the planting site ahead of time. According to the Ontario Extension Notes on white spruce, "the soil on planting sites needs to be turned over or burned to create suitable conditions for seedlings."
After planting, implement treatments to improve early root growth. Water immediately and well; new transplants are especially vulnerable to moisture loss. Lay down a wood chip mulch to retain moisture and discourage competition.
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