Potted Blue Spruce


my potted blue spruce was moved outdoors a few weeks ago and subsequently all it’s new growth has gone limp and the wee tree looks ‘unhappy’….any help, suggestions would be very much appreciated


Thank you for submitting your question.  Moving plants from inside to outdoors can have challenges as the environmental conditions can be dramatically different.   It is possible that the limp new growth is related to the shock of being outside – especially if it is considerably colder, windier or the light conditions are different.  One of the ways to mitigate this change is to move the plant outdoors gradually over a week or two.  This is called “hardening off” and involves setting your plant outdoors, in a protected spot (out of full sun or high winds) for an increasing amount of time each day.  This allows the plant to acclimatize to the new outdoor conditions.   Consider this strategy next spring if you plant to bring the tree back indoors in the fall.

Now that your blue spruce is outside, you can examine its growing conditions.  Plants in pots need enough space to grow (large enough pot). They may dry out more quickly or can get too wet if the pot doesn’t have adequate drainage.  If you see roots coming out from the bottom of the pot, your tree may need a larger container.  Increase the container size at least 2 inches in diameter or more.  It is imperative that the container has drainage holes so water doesn’t pool, which can harm the plant by suffocating and rotting the roots. Check the soil moisture by inserting your finger into the soil at least a couple of inches.  If it’s dry, the tree needs water.  If the soil is moist, water isn’t needed, and you can check again in a few days.

If drooping branches are only symptoms at present, then hopefully, your tree will recover.  If you notice needle loss or a change in needle colour please feel free to send us another message with a picture, as a pest or disease may be at play.

You may find the information from the Missouri Botanical Garden (link below), about planting, transplanting and overwintering evergreens in containers helpful.