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I have a small sprout (30‒40 cm) of some species of spruce tree that is native (or at least welcome) to the Rocky Mountains of North America (purchased from the local Fish and Game Department’s nature centre). It is still in the small plastic bucket, and I want to transplant it in the roomier container.

When is it okay to move it? Is it too late to move it this winter (the daytime temperatures are consistently above freezing already)? When is it even normal to move perennial plants (trees) in general? I thought winter is a good time, since the plant is dormant, just like for trimming. Is it possible to move it more than once? I do not have the land to plant it in yet, but I want to move it from the medium-sized tub someday as well, would that be not much of a shock? Is there minimum time in between such moves?

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Yes, the plant can be moved multiple times. Plants can be transplanted at almost any time of year. One of the main reasons for avoiding summer transplantation is because high temperatures cause dehydration of the plant, and if the plant has had root damage in the move, it cannot absorb enough water to keep up.

The important thing in your move now is to keep the temperatures consistent. If the spruce is in the house, once it’s transplanted, leave it in the house. If it’s in a greenhouse, leave it in the greenhouse. Only move it outside now if the plant is already outside. Like any plant, it will have to be hardened off to go out.

When you remove the spruce from the container it’s in, check the roots. If they are circling, gently spread them out. Always replant trees at the same level: do not bury them deeper or shallower — this can kill them. Gently press the soil in so there are no large air pockets, but do not compact it. Water in well. Do not fertilize until active growth starts later this spring.

  • Sounds a good answer. I’ll wait for few more, but this is a good candidate. Welcome to Gardening.SE, by the way. – theUg Feb 27 '13 at 0:03

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