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How to Plant Black Hills Spruce Trees

By Bridget Kelly ; Updated September 21, 2017
The Black Hills spruce tree is the official tree of South Dakota.
spruce tree branch in snow image by Daria Miroshnikova from Fotolia.com

The Black Hills spruce (Picea glauca Densata) is a variety of white spruce native to the Black Hills of South Dakota. This is a slow-growing, pyramid-shaped tree that will eventually reach heights of 20 to 25 feet. The Black Hills spruce is notably superior as an ornamental tree to any others in the species, according to botanists at Missouri Botanical Gardens. The Black Hills Spruce is hardy to USDA zones 2 to 6.

Perform a soil pH test. You can purchase testing kits at most of the larger gardening centers. You can also take a soil sample to your county cooperative extension office for analysis. Let the agent know that you are planning on planting a Black Hills spruce tree and that you’ll be needing a somewhat acidic soil. Black Hills spruce requires a soil pH of 4.0 to 7.5.

Choose a planting site for the Black Hills spruce tree. It should be one that receives full sun and has well-drained soil. If, after a heavy rain, the water tends to puddle in the area, find another location to plant.

Dig into the soil to a depth of 12 inches, loosening the soil and removing any rocks and other debris.

Add a 3-inch layer of compost and any other amendments suggested by the soil pH analysis and mix them in well, using the gardening fork, to a depth of 8 inches.

Dig a hole the same depth and twice the width of the pot in which the Black Hills spruce tree is being grown. Remove the tree from the pot and place the roots in the hole. Fill the hole halfway with soil.

Fill the hole with water, allow it to drain, and then fill it the rest of the way with soil. Press the soil around the base of the tree with your hands or feet.

Water the tree until the water puddles and drains. Add a 3-inch layer of compost around the base of the tree, but don’t allow it to touch the bark (2 to 3 inches away is fine).


Things You Will Need

  • Compost
  • Soil amendments
  • Shovel
  • Gardening fork
  • Mulch

About the Author


Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.