Accurate Growth Rate Info

whaas_5a(5A SE WI)November 9, 2011

We all know there are multple sources to find growth rate info but at the end of the day there are some cultivars that are a little less known therefore you end up finding quite the range.

So...I have a plant in its container awaiting placment, can I in theory observe the previous year's growth (or current year's growth) and assume that is the actual growth rate of the plant sitting in front of me? I understand there are other variables in play regarding how the new enviroment will effect its growth rate but it needs to go somewhere and can always move later.

I'll take Picea pungens 'Royal Knight' for example. There are several folks here that have this plant and have observed 3-4" of growth. Then there are some sources online saying its closer to 9". Thats a huge difference if you ask me. I even asked the grower and he gave a growth rate of 6". Then the plant arrived and it looks closer to 3-4".

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Unfortunately the answer is NO for most cultivars and even species plants. The old adage for plants, in years 1, 2 and 3, they sleep, creep and leap applies to conifers though it's just a guideline, not anything firm. Some conifers grow slowly for years and then start putting on growth. This is particularly true of some cultivars that are grafted to strong rootstock.

Tsuga mertensiana is a good example that jumps to mind. It grows VERY slowly at first but eventually, maybe even 5-6 years after it gets into the ground, it can put out closer to one foot a year annual growth.

With all that said, I'd say after a couple years in the ground, under those soil/sunlight/water/climate conditions, you can expect fairly similar annual growth on many cultivars. It's certainly not a guarentee but you can be more comfortable giving estimates.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 7:03PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

IMHO .... for what it is worth..

plants in pots are HYPER-fertilized .... to increase growth for max potential resale value ... but i cant say i have ever seen a mature growth rate in a small pot ...

then we interfere with all that with transplant shock ... and it will take 2 to 4 years for it to settle in .. and then achieve its mature growth rate ... [and as far as i am concerned.. we do NOT fertilize at this stage.. to hurry it all up] ....

now.. i am not talking about plants that are repotted and upsized repeatedly to make large specimens .... or planted in mother earth after grafting and a year in a pot ...

finally.. i told you the 3 to 4 inch growth rate .... IN FULL DARK SHADE ... do NOT forget that part ....

if you cant find any info regarding dwarf or mini growth rate.. then simply presume .. it will grow the same as P pungens ...

as far as i recall ... way back when.. i could not find any reference to RK ... nor any indication of dwarf nor mini.. so it does not surprise me.. that its growth rate.. int eh full sun it is supposed to be in... is equivalent to Pp

or i am just full of manure.. ergo.. my plants mature faster.. lol ...

as i said.. FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH ....

just enjoy it.. perhaps bud prune it.. and if in 5 years its looking like it will be too big.. train it into xmas tree shape.. and have the most spectacular indoor tree ever ..


ps: i can not tell from your pic.. but give us your observation on the whorls on your tree.. i will bet... there is a nice growth from a band pot the year after after grafting.. then a smaller one.. when potted up to one gal ... and then the following one.. perhaps from fert.. larger growth rate ... maybe the last two .. and even if you planted in spring.. that top growth grew.. before the transplant shock ... i would not be surprised.. if there is a regression next year ...

observe what you have .. and give us your interpretation of how it reacted within its life ....

[are you an engineer ??? you seem obsessed on mother nature being mathematically precise... good luck with that. . lol .. am i right?????]

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 7:26PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Will, Ken, makes sense...I'm taking it all in.

At the end of the day I'm using this as a screening plant. If it is indeed a dwarf I need to move it and put another plant in there with a 9-12" growth rate.

I planted this little guy late summer so it had already budded in its original pot. Fairly good root system.

Ken, background is marketing communications/research and product management. Bascially I know how to bring products to market...I let the engineers design them. I do understand the variables of mother nature. I like to collect as much info as possible to make good decisions, I just can't help it!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 8:03PM
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Specifically regarding 'Royal Knight', from my observations, either my plant is not the correct cultivar or all of the others I have seen are not correct. Mine grew maybe 2 inches the first year and less then 2 inches this year. Very bizarre. My source was 'Girard's Nursery'.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 11:28AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

background is marketing communications/research and product management

===>>> at engineering firms ???? .. rotflmbo ....

i think mine was from girards also... but i am too lazy to look it up ... called my own bluff ... mine was from hidden lakes plant sale.. so probably from a gee's donation ...

2001 ... in full shade... pic 2008

the only pic i have.. because i forget it is in the hosta bed ....

look familiar fireboy ????

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 11:40AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Ken, no, lol. Lawn and Garden company and then commercial plumbing.

Your plant is fairly nice being in full shade.

Decision made...'Royal Knight' is moving out and Picea mariana 'Aureovariegata' is moving in!

I'm convinced that Picea pungens just as well (if not better) in part shade. My two neighbors have glorious full, bright blue specimens growing in part shade and the rest on the block growing in full sun look somewhat ratty.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 11:53AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

part of the sun problem ... is getting a plant to get 'established' .. due to the reduced vigor .... so you might have a year or two extra to get to a proper annual growth rate.. PRESUMING YOU CAN ID YOUR PLANT.. lol ..

and it seems the blue is not as intense at bud extension.. but due to reduced heat.. the spring blueness seems to hold longer ....

maybe because the blue is a wax which seems to reflect the blue sky .. often looking greyer on cloudy days.. so in the shade.. no blue sky to reflect.. hmmm.. just thought up that theory ....

the neighbors.. speculating.. may have been in full sun long ago ... when all the shade trees were smaller ... got established .... and now are doing just fine ...


    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 12:09PM
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Yep looks like it Ken only mine is in full sun, about two years in the ground now. Unless it shows a massive spurt of growth I'll have to assume it's a small dwarf(and perhaps something more like 'St. Mary's Broom'? and not 'Royal Knight'...

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 1:32PM
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