Picea- Spruce

Evergreen conifers resembling the silver fir, Abies, in appearance.


Many species grow rather large and can therefore only be used on the fringes of large gardens; naturally they provide a good wind-break. Dwarf forms are sometimes planted on slopes, in rock gardens etc; a few of the more unusual types, such as the well known blue spruce, are frequently used as specimen plants.


Reasonably good, predominantly acid soil.


Species from seed; garden forms are increased from cuttings or by grafting.

Picea abies, common spruce, Norway spruce, Christmas tree: Height to 20 m, pyramidal habit; bare, reddish-brown twigs, needles to 2.5 cm in length, dark green and glossy. They are clearly arranged in two rows on the underside of the twigs. There are many low-growing cultivars, such as ‘Compacta’, broad cone shape, 1.5 m; ‘Maxwellii’, broad cone with orange-brown twigs; ‘Nidiformis’, very broad, 1 m in height; ‘Repens’, creeping, provides ground-cover.

Picea brewer ana, Brewer’s weeping spruce

Height 20-30 m, pyramidal shape, vertical branches; the needles are grey green. Makes a beautiful specimen tree when there is adequate space; but grows to 6 m across. Picea glauca, white spruce: Height to 20 m, densely branched; the needles are blue green and smell like blackcurrants; very wind-resistant. In gardens we usually find the beautiful 2 m tall ‘Conica’, but subject to red spider, especially on the side facing the prevailing wind. Picea omorika, Serbian spruce: Height 20-30 m, very narrow columnar shape; the branches arch gracefully. The twigs are densely covered in brown down, the needles are blunt, with two broad white bands on the reverse. A fine specimen tree for small gardens, but not problem free. Picea pungens, Colorado spruce: Height to 30 m, pyramidal shape; bare, glossy orange-brown twigs; sharp blue-green needles. There are a number of cultivars, among them the well known blue forms. ‘Koster’ and ‘Moerheim’ are famous blue spruces; height to 10 m; ‘Glauca’ is of a less pronounced blue colour, but is faster growing. ‘Globosa’ is a blue-grey dwarf form, more than 1 m in height and the same across; ‘Prostrata’ is equally low-growing, but spreads over several metres. Blue spruces are greatly subject to attacks by aphids. ik Pieris- Ornamental shrubs which retain their foliage in winter. They are also known as Andromeda, and although in no way resembling heather, they belong in the heather garden.


In very sheltered, partially shaded positions. Beware of night frost.


Acid, fairly damp soil is essential. If the soil is un-suitable it should first be mixed with plenty of peat.


From seed or from cuttings taken in summer.

Pieris flonbunda: Height to 1 m; white flowers in erect growing plumes in mid spring. The oval leaves are green and glossy, slightly serrated.

Pieris forrestii: Height to 1.5 m; foliage red when it starts into growth. A very fine shrub, but in inland gardens is not sufficiently frost resistant.

Pieris japomca: Height 2 m; white flowers in drooping plumes in mid spring. There is a variegated form called ‘Vanegata’.

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