The spruce tree is a majestic tree making an attractive addition to a landscape. Because of their beauty and large stature, they stand out in a yard or garden, commanding attention. In addition to beautifying landscapes, they're used indoors as cut Christmas trees. Resin from spruce trees is also valuable as it's used to make spirits of turpentine in addition to skin ointments and other products. They can be costly, but the spruce's year-round beauty is a good investment.
Spruce trees are Gymnosperms, which are flowering plants lacking true fruits, although they bear seeds that form cones. Their leaves are dark green, usually less than 1 inch long, extremely stiff and somewhat curved. Cones are born on the tree's upper branches with an average cone producing about 300 to 350 seeds. In the fall the cones turn glossy brown. The tree's flowers bloom in colors including pink, dark, red, purple, green and yellow. Spruce wood is essentially white. While spruce trees growing in open forests have knotty wood, spruces in thicker forest have wood that has a fine and even grain.
Spruce trees are the loftiest of all European trees as they can grow as high as 125 to 150 feet or even more, according to the 20-20 Site website. They have a straight narrowing stem that's about 2 to 6 feet wide. The tree's sweeping branches give it a round look and its upright main shoot contributes to its conical shape.
Time Frame and Longevity
Spruces grow quickly from seed, although they don't exceed more than 6 or 8 inches each year for the first three or four years of life. After reaching 3 feet, they can grow from 2 to 3 feet annually until they're 50 feet tall. Species such as the white spruce and Colorado spruce can live up to 75 years.
There are several varieties of spruce trees. The Colorado blue spruce is the most drought resistant, as well as the fussiest, as it needs full sunlight and a rich, moist soil. Colorado blue spruces should be pruned in early spring and all dead wood should be removed. The Norwegian variety is ideal for summer shade and provides holiday decorations in winter. It does best in loam, sandy or clay soil and thrives in full sunlight.
Serbian spruces grow in a pyramidal shape and won't overpower a garden or yard. This tall slender tree is a good choice for smaller properties.
When pruning a spruce tree, notice the tree's shape. These trees generally have an outline of a Christmas tree, so it's important to determine which limbs should be trimmed off and which ones need pruning back. Being overzealous can result in more limbs being removed, giving the tree a bald look.