Over the last 2 planting seasons, I've had 2 differnet spruce tree plants
die in the same hole. Plants located about 5 feet away are doing well.
I guess it's possible there is something wrong with the soil in this
particular spot. I'm thinking of digging out a lot of the soil and replacing
it with mew soil before putting in tree number 3.
You say "plants" 5 ft away are doing well, but you don't say what kind.
It's unlikely that soil a few feet away is majorly different from the
patch in which you planted the spruce trees, so I'm guessing that it's a
soil pH issue. Spruce (pretty well all conifers) like acid soil with pH
around 5. Most garden plants and deciduous trees and shrubs prefer
neutral or slightly basic soil with pH around 7 to 8. This does not
preclude planting another spruce tree there, but check the pH level
first (get a soil-testing kit at your garden shop), and acidify the soil
around the tree if necessary. Peat moss acidifies, as does fertiliser
made for conifers.
You also don't say whether you bought these trees, or just dug them up
in the bush. If you bought them, the nursery should be good for them,
assuming you followed their instructions. If they're wild trees, be
aware that the root damage you caused by digging them up could be bad
enough to kill the tree. Prune the tree by about 1/4 or 1/3rd (lop off
the lower branches) to reduce the load on the roots, mix bone meal into
the soil before planting, sprinkle some around the roots as you fill up
the hole. Bone meal promotes root growth.
Conifers also need a surprsing amount of water, so keep the soil moist
(but not sopping wet) for a month or two after planting. This usually
means soaking the ground every two to four days, depending on your soil
conditions, rainfall, etc.
You also don't say what size these trees were. In general, it's best to
plant seedlings. More mature trees don't transplant as well. And
conifers transplant less well than deciduous trees.
The other plants might be better suited for your climate or their location.
The planting technique could be faulty. Some spruce are subject to fungal
disease and will die regardless of all else. New trees and shrubs need TLC
for the first couple of years, especially watering and winter care to
prevent dehydration and wind burn.
Perhaps this tree was palnted too low?
I've seen a neighbor's arborvite B&B transplant die a number of times, in the
same spot. One day, I looked into how the replacements were planted (on a
slight grade) and realized it was too low in the ground. Advise them to plant
the replacement higher, and viloa, after 1 year, the shrub lives..
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