temporarily storing conifers over the winter, yay or nay?

escrayzeeSeptember 20, 2011


At one of the local nurseries here, there are some conifers that I'm interested in, that are currently being offered with some attractive discounts, but the locations that I would like to plant in my yard aren't ready (i.e. bed shapes and sizes aren't completely figured out yet). My question is, would there be any harm in buying them now and planting them temporarily in a sheltered location in my yard, and them move them in the spring to exactly where I want them to be?

I'm live in Toronto which is a USDA zone 5 (Canadian zone 6) and what I would like to pick-up are:

- Juniperus Sabina 'Calgary Carpet' (apparently hardy to USDA zone 3).

- Thuja Occidentalis 'Yellow Ribbon' (apparently hardy to USDA zone 3).

Also, could somebody tell me if there are any conical spruce-like-looking conifers that will have "max" spread (at base) of approx 6 feet in diameter? Height isn't an issue. Most that I've seen and read about get MASSIVE over time. I understand that they can be pruned to keep them in check but I'm concerned that once the tree gets to a certain height, pruning the upper part of the tree would be an issue. If only near the base gets pruned, then I find it starts to look unnatural. I hate the "clipped" look. I'm at a loss.

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I forgot to mention, please don't suggest, Picea Glauca Conica. I'm sure you all understand ;) I have a mature one in my yard, which is nice but I really don't need/want any more of them in particular. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 8:06PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Easjay, I have been in the same position. In some ways you would save your free tine and labor by waiting till spring and just buying then.

Usually I make the decision to buy now though lol. Just make sure your fall deals are good plants.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 10:59PM
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Thanks for replying Toronado. The plants I was looking at were in great looking shape. I know often plants are discounted because they're ill or whatever but that's not the case here. These $ savings by buying them now easily out-weight my labour for moving them in the Spring. Worst case scenario, the plants do have a warranty that if something bad happened, they could be replaced in the Spring, but the plants I'm interested are very hardy for my zone so I doubt that I would have to resort to that. So you've done what I would like to do? hehehe

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 7:58AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Yup. I did not even need a sale or discount to make me buy a plant I was sure I would have a place for in the fall or next spring.

Over the summer I can keep them alive in pots now by making sure the pot stays shaded and cool most of the day. They better be in the ground during the winter though. Either soil freezes or watering schedule or something gets the best of me.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 8:42AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

No problem. Plant them and move them next spring while they're dormant. In your zone that's going to be anytime March when the ground is workable/not frozen. Ensure success and add mulch and keep em well watered.

Spruces you're looking for are Picea abies Cupressiana; Picea omorika Gotelli Weeping; Picea glauca 'Pendula';


    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 8:45AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i didnt see if they are potted or BB???

if you have a bed design in your mind... why not just plant them were you want them .... and leave the rest of the bed building for whenever ... if you plan on raising the bed.. then just plant the plant high .... i think that would be the easiest and safest solution ...

please go to your members page.. and add a town and/or zone ... so i would have a clue where you are ...

if potted.. you could simply sink the pots and all ... ONLY if your soil drains properly [dont do this in clay] ... otherwise.. you could place them on the north side of a building to keep black pots out of winter sun ... and then backfill around the pots with the mulch you will use on the bed later ... to keep them cozy for winter ... what you want to avoid.. is the black pot.. coming in and out of dormancy repeatedly over the winter.. in case you have a prolonged warm spell in the middle of winter..

you could also store them in a free standing structure.. but i wont go into that.. unless you are considering such ...

the real key here is: get them dormant.. and KEEP THEM DORMANT ....

again.. all subject to where you live.. [which i now see is toronto .. whats that all about.. lol] .. so all the above works ...


    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 8:46AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

'Cupressina' (note spelling) grows much broader than 6'. I also doubt the other two will stay within that limit. It depends on how long you want to maintain that restriction, none will be fast-growing.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 1:37PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Ron, it can take up to 25 years for 'Cupressina' to reach 6' wide in these parts.

My 10 year old (at least that is the age the grower estimated) is 18" wide.

You know plants don't get as big as fast around here. I understand where you're coming from though. I feel like I'm in a different world when visiting the PNW.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 9:54PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Ditto to what whaas said for Picea glauca 'Pendula' as well. I don't recall seeing one around here wider than 5-6 feet.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 10:21PM
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Thanks everyone for your input! I think that I'll plant them in the ground in my backyard, mulch and water them well for the winter. They'll be in a location that doesn't get much sun so I think that will help in reducing any mid-winter thawing. The reason I don't "permanently" plant them now is because I only know roughly where they will be going. I'm really anal and I know I'll end up having to move them a foot or two or three AFTER my bed perimeter is figured; and there are some other factors as well.

Thanks also for the Picea suggestions! I've seen Pendula before but not Cupressina or Gotelli Weeping. I'm looking into them.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 5:53PM
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Okay, I just wanted to share a photo of my recent acquisition. For $20, it's pretty hard to complain about this Thuja Occidentalis Yellow Ribbon :) Even though there were only 6 remaining at the nursery, I still managed to get one with one main leader!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 9:10PM
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I had some yellow ribbon but in 6-7 years they got over 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. They were some big mongers.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 12:14AM
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