The holiday season is over, and it's time to move the indoor spruce tree (Picea glauca) that you decorated with ornaments to the outdoor garden ... or not. Short evergreen trees can live a long life in their containers indoors as long as the environment isn't too warm, and it's watered when the topsoil feels dry. Dwarf spruce tree care requires diligence to keep it healthy, and if you give it the appropriate attention, you'll be able to decorate it again next year. Transplant the slow-growing spruce into a larger container and watch it mature for many years.
Preparing a Container for an Indoor Spruce
When you've finished transforming your holiday tree into an indoor decorative plant, that's the time to prepare a container as a long-term residence for your spruce. If you're using a new and larger container, check the bottom to be sure there are sufficient drainage holes. Space them 4 to 5 inches apart on the bottom surface if you need to add them. This prevents water from pooling inside the container and causing root rot.
Place a drainage dish under the pot and add a set of rolling wheels under it, as the plant gets heavy, and you'll need to move it as the weather changes and the sun moves across the sky. Be sure the container gets adequate sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Once the pot is in a semipermanent location, add 4 inches of gravel to the bottom. This adds weight to the container to counteract the top-heaviness of the spruce. Purchase new potting soil and fill the container halfway.
Transplanting Your Short Evergreen Tree
Transplanting always takes place in the spring whether you are preparing it for indoor or outdoor growth. Once the container has been prepared, take your dwarf spruce, turn it on its side and roll it back and forth to loosen it from the container. Slowly pull the tree out and separate the roots from each other with your fingers. Don't loosen the roots too much; just give them room to grow.
Lift the tree and place it into the container, making sure that the root ball is at least 4 to 6 inches below the top edge of the container. Add the rest of the soil, ending a few inches below the container's edge. Add mulch to effectively tuck in the dwarf spruce tree but away from the base of the trunk. Water slowly at the base of the trunk, allowing a drip effect to penetrate throughout the soil.
Taking Care of a Potted Spruce Tree
Now that the dwarf spruce has found its new home, additional care is needed to keep it healthy. Water regularly, especially if your environment is warm. Just like Christmas tree needles that get dry and fall off, the dwarf spruce needs its water. A deep soaking is preferred to splashing water on it every day. In the winter when the plant is not in its growing season, water less.
If the tree is young, add organic fertilizer granules in the spring for the first two years. Make sure they do not touch the trunk as you spread them. Be sure air flows around the tree whether it is indoors or outdoors. If you notice brown spots on the needles, they may be spider mites, and they need to be treated. Insecticidal soap or bifenthrin should control the infestation. However, do not use a horticultural oil on dwarf spruce trees.