The Best Time to Transplant Spruce Trees

Written by beth asher
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The Best Time to Transplant Spruce Trees
Spruce tree (spruce image by Tatuana Badokina from

Gardeners normally think of digging a tree out of its spot and moving it as transplanting. Bare root, field-potted, ball and burlapped and containerised spruces are also considered transplants because their roots are severed when they are dug.

Avoid Late Spring and Summer Transplanting

In late spring your spruce will begin putting out new growth. The smaller root ball left after transplant digging will not support spring shoot growth. Because transplants need more water than established trees summer transplanting leaves your spruce open to stress from lack of water.

Pre-Transplant Root Pruning

The Montana State University Extension Service website recommends transplanting young spruces one year after early spring root pruning. Root pruning "produces a denser root ball" for transplanting early the next spring.

The Best Time to Transplant Spruce Trees
Root prune around future transplants. (spruce image by DOLPHIN from

Best Time for Field-Potted Spruces

Always ask if spruces in containers are field-potted. The field soil around their roots is unsuitable for container growing. Transplant these spruces as soon as possible in spring.

The Best Time to Transplant Spruce Trees
Plant young field potted spruces right away. (fir image by Stanislav Komogorov from

Best Transplant Seasons

In early fall (September and October), shoot growth has slowed so roots do not have to provide as much support. Roots can grow throughout fall, winter and early spring to be ready to support canopy growth. Spruces also transplant well in very early spring (March, April) before new growth occurs.

The Best Time to Transplant Spruce Trees
Shoot growth stops in fall. (spruce image by Ekaterina Shvigert from

When Fall Transplanting Is Unsuitable

The University of Saskatchewan Extension website warns that in areas where winter brings "intense cold and extremely dry winds fall-transplanted trees stand a much greater risk of being seriously damaged by the combined moisture stresses of transplanting and winter drying."

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