Farm Horizons, December 2013

Benefits of Norway spruce trees

By Christine Schlueter
McLeod CountyMaster Gardener

If you are looking for a nice dense evergreen with a strong central leader and distinctive and refined prymidal form, the Norway or Norweign Spruce is for you.

It is a tough and hardy tree that is good for windbreaks, and if given the right growing conditions, will become quite large.

Norway Spruce has green foliage which emerges light green in the spring. The needles remain green through winter. Neither the flowers or fruit are very attractive. The smooth gray bark adds an interest and dimension to the landscape.

This tree blends well into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition. Their strength and size makes them perfect to plant in a windbreak.

This is a relatively low-maintenance tree. When you need to prune, it is recommended to only trim back the new growth of the current season or remove dieback.

Always consider the mature size of a tree before you decide to plant one. Also, make sure the climate and site conditions are correct.

The Norway spruce may get to 60 feet high, and may spread up to 30 feet. It is recommended to not plant under power lines. The spruce likes a full or part sun location.

Deer are not fans of this plant and will usually leave it alone.

It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 70 years or more.

Because of its ability to grow fast, it has been a popular choice for Christmas tree farms.

This tree should only be grown in full sunlight. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments.It is sensitive to salt spray and soil salts.

Avoid overhead watering with sprinklers and keep enough air circulation in the tree by removing lower branches and mow the grass underneath and keep the weeds down at least two feet around the tree in the first five years. It is essential to keep your young Norway spruce tree watered well the first few years. After it is established, it will still require supplemental watering when conditions are especially dry.

While Norway spruce is not native to Minnesota, it is native to central and Northern Europe. The Norway spruce is a common landscaping tree and one of the fastest growing of all species of spruce in the state. It is also fairly resistant to diseases.

Norway spruce has needles that will roll between your fingers. The needles are squarish and dark green color. Like most spruce trees, if you look closely at the needles, there will be lines of small white dots. These are stomates and typically there are 2-3 lines on each side of the needles.

The twigs are usually orange or straw-colored and hairless. The branches will droop as they mature. The bud scales are curved back and are typically golden brown overlapping scales.

It produces winged seeds in cones that are 4-8 inches long. The cones are constructed of oblong overlapping, stiff scales with the outside edges irregularly toothed. Look for flaky to scaly bark that is brown to gray in color and deep furrows as it matures.

Majestic and attractive plus the ease of care make this tree the perfect choice for those looking for a fast growing tree to beautify their landscape.

Send your garden questions to Christe at

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