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Serbian Spruce

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Image of the Serbian spruce Image by Vanessa Richins via Forestry Images - Bugwood.org

Overview:

One of the most graceful evergreens is the Serbian spruce. This beauty is naturally conical and keeps its shape well. It works well as a street tree and grows in urban conditions like pollution. Weeping and dwarf varieties are available.

This tree has been awarded the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. The 'Pendula' and 'Nana' varieties also received this honor.

Latin Name:

The scientific name assigned to this tree is Picea omorika. It belongs to the Pinaceae family.

Common Names:

The common name Serbian spruce denotes the fact that it is native to that country.

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones:

This spruce species can be planted in USDA Zones 4-7. It originates from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Size & Shape:

Over time the tree will reach a final height of 40-60' tall and a width of 15-25'. Under optimal conditions in its home region it can be over 130' tall. It naturally creates a narrow pyramidal shape that usually does not need much, if any, pruning to maintain.

Exposure:

Choose a site where your tree will receive either full sun or partial shade.

Foliage/Flowers/Fruit:

Each needle is up to 1" long and features two white bands underneath. They are connected to the stem by a little peg that is formally known as a pulvinus.

The insignificant flowers are monoecious so male and female flowers will be found on the same plant.

The fruit produced are ovate cones that are up to 2" long. They start out purple and mellow to a reddish-brown.

Design Tips:

If you would like a weeping variety of the Serbian spruce, look for 'Pendula', 'Berliner's Weeper' or 'Pendula Bruns'. Choose 'Nana' if you would prefer a dwarf version.

I first met this tree at a water conservation demonstration garden. If you water it regularly for the first season to help the roots gain a proper anchoring, it will be able to tolerate some drought in subsequent seasons.

This species can work well in the city since it can handle some pollution in the air.

Some use this as a Christmas tree.

Growing Tips:

Though this tree can handle drought sometimes, it prefers soil that is moist with good drainage. It is able to tolerate all pH and soil types.

Maintenance/Pruning:

The only pruning that is usually needed is to keep the tree free from dead, diseased or damaged branches.

Pests & Diseases:

Potential Diseases Include:

  • Needle cast
  • Rusts

Possible Pests Include:

  • Aphids
  • Bagworms
  • Borers
  • Sawfly larvae
  • Spider mites
  • Spruce budworm larvae
  • Spruce needle miner

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