Fall Hours

9:00am to 6:00pm Daily

5050 SE Stark, 503-231-5050

9000 SE Division, 503-788-9000

Portland, OR

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Portland Nursery

PICEA: The Spruce Tree

We have so many spruce trees to tell you about, we're just going to get right into it!

NORWAY SPRUCE

Norway Spruce Picea abies – native to northern and central Europe.  Used commonly as a holiday tree in Britain. The species has a tall trunk with sweeping branches and branchlets that hang like curtains off of the main branch. The silhouette of a mature tree is pyramidal, graceful and tall, to about 60 feet. They prefer full sun and are very cold-tolerant, hardy to zone 2, -50f.

Over 150 cultivated varieties exist. Here are a few of our favorites.


CupressinaCupressina– Upright narrow shape creates a strong vertical accent. Needles are dark green and branches are strong, withstanding heavy snow better than other narrow-growing conifers.

Grows fast, more than 12” per year to 10-12’ x 2’ in 10 years. Sun, Z3.

Photo courtesy of our supplier, Iseli Nursery.

 


Little Gem

Little Gem’  Bird Nest Spruce – Very slow-growing dwarf spruce with tiny dark green needles and short stiff branches resembles a thick pincushion. Grows 1-2” per year to 12-18” x 18-24” in 10 years. Sun, part shade, Z4.


Picea abies 'Pendula'‘Pendula’ Weeping Norway Spruce – Dark green needles on weeping branches. Often one branch is selected to serve as a trunk and trained to grow upright, allowing the other branches to weep and skirt the ground. Without training branches grow along the ground as a groundcover. Both are nice applications.

Grows more than 12” per year. Sun, part shade, Z3.

Photo courtesy of our supplier, Iseli Nursery.

 


WHITE SPRUCE

White Spruce Picea glauca – native from Alaska to Montana, Minnesota and New York, often found at the arctic tree line.  Short blue needles covered with a waxy substance that rubs off, small 1-2” cones. Tough plant withstands heat, cold, drought and crowding. Mature trees are 80’ tall x 15-20’ wide.  Sun, Z2

Cultivated varieties are found available for sale in nurseries more commonly than the species. These are some of our favorites.


Picea gluca 'Conica'

‘Conica’ Dwarf Alberta Spruce – A very popular dwarf conifer with short green needles and a perfect cone shape. This is a nice selection for growing in containers because it grows so slowly that it can remain in the same pot for years.

Grows 3-6” per year, 2-3’ x 10-12” in 10 years. Sun, Z4. Photo courtesy of our supplier, Iseli Nursery.


Picea glauca 'Pixie'

Picea glauca

Several forms similar to 'Conica' exist, with slight variations. Jean’s Dilly’ and‘Pixie’ (shown here) are smaller and more dense in habit, ‘Rainbow’s End’ has creamy new growth, ‘Sander’s Blue’ has silvery blue needles.

Photo courtesy of our supplier, Iseli Nursery.

 


Picea glaucens 'Densata'Densata’ Black Hills Spruce – native to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Used commonly as a holiday tree in the Mid-west and Eastern US, the Black Hills Spruce is an upright symmetrical pyramid with dark to yellow or blue-green needles. 

Grows 6-12” per year, maturing at 20-40’ in 40-80 years.  Sun, Z2.

 


Picea glaucens 'Pendula'Pendula’ Weeping White Spruce – discovered in France, 1867, nearly lost in cultivation but reintroduced by Iseli Nursery in 1982. Outstanding specimen with blue-green needles on branches that weep from a tall central leader to create a slender spire. 

Grows 6-12” per year, 6-10’ x 2-3’ in 10 years.  Sun, Z2

 


SERBIAN SPRUCE

Picea omorika

Serbian Spruce Picea omorika – native to Southwestern Serbia. Flat needles are two-toned, dark green above and silvery white below. Cones are small and red-brown when ripe. Slender pyramid shape resembles that of a Douglas Fir.

Grows 12” per year to 60’ x 20’ in many years. Sun, Z4

Cultivars:


Picea omorika 'Nana'Nana’ – A dwarf globe shaped shrub with two-toned needles, green on top and white beneath that lend a silvery cast to the plant.

Grows to 3’ x 3’ in 10 years, 8-10’ given time.  Sun, Z4.

Photo courtesy of our supplier, Iseli Nursery.

 


Picea omorika 'Pendula'‘Pendula’ – This beautiful tree is a perfect choice for a focal point in any garden. Green and silver needles on an upright narrow spire with sweeping branches that curl up at the tips. Forms a lovely skirt around the base of the tree. 

Grows 12” per year, 12’ x 4’ in 10 years. Sun, Z5.

Photo courtesy of our supplier, Iseli Nursery.

 


ORIENTAL SPRUCE

Oriental Spruce Picea orientalis – native to Caucasus (S. Russia to N. Iran) Tall and densely branched with short dark green needles. Grows to 60-120’ tall, Sun, Z4

Cultivars:

Picea orientalis 'Aureospicata'‘Aureospicata’ – Bright yellow new growth in spring turns dark green in summer heat. Needles are short and sit close to slender branches. Narrow pyramidal shape with a strong central leader and graceful arching side branches.

Grows about 12” per year, 12-15’ x 6-8’ in 10 years, much larger given time. Sun, Z4.

Photo courtesy of our supplier, Iseli Nursery.

 


Picea orientalis 'Shadow's Broom'‘Shadow’s Broom’ – Short rich dark green needles, stiff ascending branches and slow growth. In youth, the shape is nest-like with an indention in the center, but over time it will fill out to a mounded shape.

Dwarf, grows 3-6” per year, 2-3’ tall x 3-4’ wide in 10 years. Sun, Z4.

Photo courtesy of our supplier, Iseli Nursery.

 


Picea orientalis 'Skylands'‘Skylands’ – Yellow and green needles look like they are frosted with lemon icing. Color holds year-round but is brighter in spring.

Grows in an upright pyramidal shape similar to Aureospicata’. Gold leaves can burn in the hottest part of summer, so afternoon shade is preferable. Z4.

Photo courtesy of our supplier, Iseli Nursery.

 


COLORADO SPRUCE

Colorado Spruce Picea pungens – native to the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico

Colorado Blue Spruce Picea pungens var glauca.

All of the following cultivated varieties have nice bright blue needles, like full sun and are hardy to -50f.

Picea glaucens 'Baby Blue Eyes'‘Baby Blue Eyes’ – Upright pyramid shape, semi-dwarf, grows 6-8”/yr, 10’ in 20 years

 


‘Bakeri’ – ‘Classic Colorado Blue’ color and shape – full size, upright pyramid, grows 12”/yr to 40-45’ x 18-20’ given time


Picea glaucens 'Fat Albert'‘Fat Albert’ – Broad pyramid shape, semi-dwarf, grows 6-10”/yr, 8’ x 5’ in 10 years

 


Picea pungens 'Procumbens'

‘Procumbens’ – A weeping or prostrate form with irregular branching, beautiful draping over rocks, grows 1’ tall x 8’ wide in 10 years


Picea pungens 'RH Montgomery'‘RH Montgomery’ – Dwarf globe shaped shrub, grows 3-6”/yr to 4’ x 3’ in 10 years.

Photo courtesy of our supplier, Iseli Nursery.

 


SITKA SPRUCE

Stika SprucePicea sitchensis – native to the Pacific Northwest along the coast from Alaska to California. Sharp glossy green needles have white reverse. Bark is smooth and gray, cones are 2-4” long. Habit is upright and pyramidal with irregular slender branches that sweep upward at the tips. 
Grows 12”/yr or more, to 40-60’ tall – given time it can grow over 150’ tall.

Sun-part shade, loves moist air, foggy coast line.  Hardiness information varies. Some sources say zone 7, others zone 5. Both should be fine in Portland and along the coast, but venturing out from there, be careful!!

Cultivar:

Picea stitchenis 'Papoose'

‘Papoose’ – Lovely little dwarf with stiff two-toned needles that cast a shimmery glow. Grows in a globe shape when young and eventually produces a leader forming a squatty cone shape.

Growth is very slow, 3” per year to 2-3’ in 10 years.  Sun, part shade, Z5

Abies concolor

Picea pungens
Colorado Spruce

FACTS: PICEA

Family: Pinaceae

Genus: Picea – pie-SEE-a
Picea is the Latin word for spruce, derived from the word pix, the word for pitch.

Common: Spruce

Origin: 40 species, mostly from colder regions of the northern hemisphere.

Characteristics: Evergreen coniferous trees and shrubs are often tall, narrow and symmetrically shaped. Sharp, mostly square needles are held to branches by ‘pegs’ or little pockets that remain on the stem when needles fall.

Cones are mostly hanging. Many cultivated varieties exist, lending variations in size, color and shape. Dwarf and miniature spruce are good selections to grow in containers. Roots are shallow and spreading, so transplanting is usually successful.

Light: Sun to part shade

Soil: Moderately moist well-drained soil is preferred, but clay soil is okay. Be mindful to keep trees moist during spring when they’re pushing new growth. During this time they are particularly susceptible to damage and death if they are allowed to be too dry. Picea omorika Serbian Spruce, and P. pungens Colorado Spruce are more tolerant of dry soil conditions like those found in eastern Oregon.

Pruning & Training:

Prune from mid-autumn thru winter.

Be careful not to cut into bare wood, wood without any green attached. Spruce does not generate new growth from bare branches and pruning down too far will cause the branch to die.

Keep an eye out for reverting growth in cultivated varieties, especially in Alberta spruce. Reversion is the production of shoots that do not match the cultivated plant, for example, upright growth on a weeping plant. Prune reverting growth at its base, as soon as you notice it.

Alberta Spruce takes well to shearing and can often be found in nurseries trained and shaped into topiary forms like spirals and pom-poms. To maintain shape, prune yearly during mid-autumn thru winter.

Problems: Mites, aphids and bagworms are the most common pests affecting spruce trees. Root rot and rust are common diseases.

Picea abies 'Pendula'

Picea abies 'Pendula'

Picea abies 'Arcona'

Picea abies 'Arcona'

Picea glauca 'Densata'

Picea glauca 'Densata' in May

Picea glauca 'Jeans Dilly'

Picea glauca 'Jeans Dilly'

Picea glauca 'Pendula'

Picea glauca 'Pendula'

Picea glauca 'Rainbow'

Picea glauca 'Rainbow's End'

Picea orientalis 'Shadow's Broom'

Picea orientalis 'Shadow's Broom'

Picea orientalis 'Skylands'

Picea orientalis 'Skylands'

Picea ormoriko 'Pimoko'

Picea ormoriko 'Pimoko'

Picea pungens 'Baby Blue Eyes'

Picea pungens 'Baby Blue Eyes'

Picea pungens 'Fat Albert'

Picea pungens 'Fat Albert'

Picea pungesn 'Lundeby's Dwarf'

Picea pungesn 'Lundeby's Dwarf'

Picea pungens 'Shilo weeping'

Picea pungens 'Shilo weeping'

Picea pungens

Picea pungens

Picea pungens var. glauca

Picea pungens var. glauca

Picea stitchensis 'Papoose'

Picea stitchensis 'Papoose'