Colorado blue spruce's blue-tinged foliage has made it a popular landscape plant. Colorado blue spruce can live up to 600 years, according to USDA experts. There are cultivated standards (large) and dwarf cultivars of Colorado blue spruce.
Type of Container Affects Planting Times
There are three main ways to buy Colorado blue spruce: balled and burlapped (B&B), container potted or bare-root. Colorado blue spruce is rarely sold bare-root unless as bulk seedlings. The type of container, or lack of it in the case of bare-root trees, helps determine when to plant the tree.
Climate Affects Planting Times
In areas with mild climates, like Southern California, Colorado blue spruce can be planted nearly year-round. Harsh winters and freezing weather limit planting times in certain areas. Use a freeze/frost map like NOAA's to estimate planting times in cold weather areas.
Best Planting Time for Balled and Burlapped
Balled and burlapped trees have diminished root systems. They need to be planted before canopy growth begins. Late winter (February) through early spring (March, April) is best. Planting in early fall is acceptable since leaf and shoot growth has slowed.
Best Planting Time for Bare Root
Bare root Colorado blue spruces should be planted while dormant so roots can become established before leaf and shoot growth begins. Late winter through early spring is best depending on your climate and ground thaw date. Bare root spruces can also be planted in very early fall.
Best Planting Time for Potted
Potted Colorado blue spruces are either spruces dug up and potted for sale, or spruces that have been entirely container grown. Plant potted spruces in late spring through early fall. Spruces potted in field soil need early spring planting. Planting in spring through early fall is best for spruces grown in containers.
Avoid Late Fall Planting
Late fall-planted Colorado blue spruces will not have time to get established. They are very susceptible to winter injury and die-back.
- U.S. Dept. of Agriculture NRCS Plant Guide: Blue Spruce, Picea pungens Engelm
- Iowa State University Extension: Dwarf Blue Spruce: A Superb Year-round Landscape Garden Plant
- University of Nevada Cooperative Extension: Planting Bare Root Trees and Shrubs in Nevada
- University of Minnesota SULIS: Evergreen Trees and Shrubs, Purchasing and Planting Evergreen Trees and Shrubs
- North Carolina University Cooperative Extension: Planting Techniques for Trees and Shrubs
- University of Minnesota Extension: Planting and Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
- Washington State University Clark County Extension: The Blues Colorado Blue Spruce
- National Climactic Data Center, NOAA: Freeze/Frost Maps
Beth Asher began writing in 1972 for a catalog company. She has written for schools and charities, including Star Workshop Foundation. She was a John Deere representative for nine years, manager of Brown's Blueberries and an advisory member of King County Small Farms Board and the Washington Association of Landscape Professionals. Asher holds a Bachelor of Science in computer networking from City University.