Conifer Container Seedlings: Winter Care

Asked September 13, 2016, 6:51 PM EDT

Hello! I wanted to email and ask about some Bald Cypress and Norway Spruce trees that I have growing in seedling containers at the moment. I started them this year so they are only about 6 months old. I was wondering how I should care for them in the winter months? They are currently in “D60” Deepot Cell planters. Should I leave them outside to winter? Or should I bring them inside? Will I need to fertilize them at all over winter? Thanks so much for any info you can help me with!

Iowa County Iowa

3 Responses

Both bald cypress and Norway spruce seedlings should be allowed to go dormant over winter, which means that they should be left outside. It would be good to protect the root systems either by burying the containers up to their tops so that the roots are underground rather than exposed, or mulch the containers heavily to prevent temperature fluctuations during winter.

They should not be fertilized over winter. They might need to be watered a time or two if we don't have snow cover and conditions are dry.

Thanks for the info!

2 More questions:
Since these were started from seed in tree seedling pots, should I be fertilizing them? I'm not sure how quickly the soil mixture nutrients will run out. They are about 6 months old now.

Also, when should I consider planting them in larger pots? The Bald Cypress are not in the D60's like the Norway Spruce are. They are planted in D16's which are 2 inch cell diameter and 7inch depth.

Thanks again for your help in advance!

You should not fertilize these until early spring. Being dormant means they are not using nutrients, so you're just wasting your fertilizer.

Potted seedlings should be re-planted next spring, before they start putting on new growth. Choose a container at least twice as large as the containers you started them in.