Norway Spruce

Description & Overview

Norway Spruce grows rapidly when young, up to 3 feet per year! However, its large mature size must be considered when siting this plant. This tree should be given plenty of room and is ideal for spaces needing a fast growing screen. It is also somewhat resistant to glyphosate herbicide, making it suitable for use near agricultural land. Use as a specimen, windbreak, or screen.

Core Characteristics

Wisconsin Native: No – Introduced USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 2 Mature Height: 50-70 feet Mature Spread: 25-30 feet Growth Rate: Fast Growth Form: Broad pyramidal evergreen, pendulous branches Light Requirements: Full Sun Site Requirements: Tolerant of many soils except excessively dry sites Flower: Monoecious, insignificant pink-red male and ruby-red female flowers Bloom Period: May Foliage: Medium Green Fall Color: N/A-Evergreen Urban Approved: Yes Fruit Notes: Cone, 4-7 inches long, purple-green maturing to brown

Suggested Uses:

Norway Spruce grows rapidly when young, up to 3 feet per year! However, its large mature size must be considered when siting this plant. This tree should be given plenty of room and is ideal for spaces needing a fast growing screen. It is also somewhat resistant to glyphosate herbicide, making it suitable for use near agricultural land. Use as a specimen, windbreak, or screen.

Wildlife Value:

Although not native to North America, Norway Spruce provides cover to many avian species. Hawks, owls, and other birds of prey may be found roosting in the upper part of the tree. In a woodland setting, Norway spruce provides habitat to furbearing species like the threatened American Marten.

Maintenance Tips:

The rapid growth of Norway Spruce occurs in two stages; upwards then outwards. Because of this, a young tree may look awkward with a long central leader that has no lateral branching. While this may be unsightly in youth, do not shear the tree to improve its immediate aesthetics. This will damage the structure and form of the Norway Spruce. Their best performance is when left to grow naturally.

Established Norway Spruce trees are somewhat tolerant of drought, but will benefit from deep watering when rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Watering should be done at the base of the tree, directly into the soil. Avoid using an irrigation system that sprays the needles, as wet foliage is conducive to fungal and bacterial diseases.

Like all evergreens, Norway Spruce can suffer winter damage if fertilized incorrectly. Homeowners should avoid applying fertilizer in fall as this may cause a new flush of growth that will not harden off for winter. A trained plant health care professional or arborist can advise how to best apply fall fertilization. Alternatively, a maintained mulch ring will slowly add nutrients to the soil, avoiding the need for fertilizer application.


Norway Spruce has no serious insect or disease issues. It is more resistant (but not immune) to Rhizosphaera needlecast than Colorado Blue Spruce and White Spruce. Occasionally, Norway Spruce can develop Cytospora Canker and Rust diseases. It can also be attacked by Spider Mites, Spruce Gall Aphids, and boring insects. These pests and pathogens typically present when the tree is already stressed. The best prescription for a healthy Norway Spruce is maintaining tree vigor with watering and mulch.

Norway Spruce performs best in full sun. Although it can survive in some shade, the form of Norway Spruce becomes loose and unsightly when it receives less than 6 hours of direct sun. Be aware of available light when siting this tree for best results.

Norway Spruce, like other spruces, is mostly deer resistant. Browsing may occur in periods of high pressure, but this is infrequent in Southeast Wisconsin.

Leaf Lore:

Norway Spruce has long been prized for forest products for its strong wood and rapid growth rate. Its wood is used for structural lumber, paper production, and specialty products like tonewood for string instruments. Due to its high economic and cultural value, Norway Spruce was the first gymnosperm to have its genome sequenced. It is also a popular Christmas tree due to its heavy branching. Oslo, the capital of Norway, gifts a massive Norway Spruce to Edinburgh, London, and Washington, D.C. each year to be used as a Christmas tree. These 50 year old trees are a symbol of thanks for Britain and the United States’ aid during World War II.

The value of Norway Spruce extends beyond wood products. The fresh shoots of the tree have long been used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory, skin, and gastrointestinal ailments. The resins are used for burgundy pitch, a component of many varnishes and medicinal compounds. Its needles were once used to brew spruce beer, both a treatment for scurvy and refreshing beverage. If you are interested in brewing your own, the following is an American recipe from 1796 (meant to use Red or Black Spruce):

Take four ounces of hops, let them boil half an hour in one gallon of water, strain the hop water then add sixteen gallons of warm water, two gallons of molasses, eight ounces of essence of spruce, dissolved in one quart of water, put it in a clean cask, then shake it well together, add half a pint of emptins (yeast), then let it stand and work one week, if very warm weather less time will do, when it is drawn off to bottle, add one spoonful of molasses to every bottle.

Norway Spruce has the largest cones of all Spruce trees and is a key identifier for the species. White Spruce produces cones that are 1-2 inches, Colorado Blue Spruce produces cones that are 2-4 inches, and Norway Spruce cones are 4-7 inches. If you ever struggle to determine what kind of spruce you are looking at, check the cones!

Although not native to North America, Norway Spruce was brought to the continent by early settlers and has naturalized in several Wisconsin counties. In the United States, the tree has been used to reclaim mine spoils and other disturbed sites due to its toughness.

One of the oldest trees in the world is a Norway Spruce. Named Old Tjikko, the surprisingly small 16 feet tall tree grows from a root system that is over 9,500 years old! The tree has persisted through resprouting and layering, and is considered the oldest individual clonal tree. Old Tjikko was discovered on Fulufjallet Mountain, Sweden, by Professor Leif Kullman.

Companion Plants:

The seasonal needle drop of Norway Spruce will acidify the soil beneath. When selecting perennials for underplanting, use those that tolerate soil acidity and heavy shade. Some options include Solomon’s Seal, Delft Lace Astilbe, Wild Ginger, and Spikenard.


Norway Spruce Tree

Cold Tolerant Evergreen Growth

Why Norway Spruce Trees?

For starters, the Norway Spruce Tree can grow to a large height in as little as three years. It will continue to grow rapidly to a mature height of 50 feet. And since it’s a dense tree that easily blocks out wind and neighbors, it’s ideal for use as a privacy barrier, windscreen, or even a traditional showpiece.

Plus, you’ll enjoy its deep green color year-round. Especially since it’s even drought tolerant, too. Believed to be the most cold hardy spruce available, the Norway truly thrives and will grow in any Northern state. Also, the Norway Spruce is the most disease resistant spruce you can find. Any serious disease or insect problems that kill other spruce trees do not affect the Norway Spruce.

Why is Better
First, a substantial wind barrier is just a click away. The Norway makes a solid statement and helps lower your winter heating bills. But the best part? Not only is it good-looking, adaptable to a variety of conditions and soils and very cold tolerant, but it’s also been planted, grown and nurtured for top benefits.

We’ve done the hard work at our nursery in growing your Norway Spruce long before shipping…now, you reap the rewards in your own landscape.

Don’t wait – get this tough evergreen for yourself. Get your Norway Spruce Tree today!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: Avoid planting your Norway Spruce too close to sidewalks, buildings, or street right-of-ways. It’s best to plant the tree as soon as you bring it home from the nursery, but it’s important to avoid planting the tree during extremely dry weather and to give it at least six weeks to develop before the first frost of the season. If you need to wait to plant the tree, keep the roots constantly moist.

When you’re ready to plant, dig a large hole twice as wide as the size of the Norway Spruce root ball and just as deep. Dampen the roots in preparation for planting and set the root ball into the hole, being sure the trunk is straight. Back fill the hole with a mixture of your native soil and some gardening soil. Mulch around the base of the spruce to keep weeds and grasses from growing around the planting site.

2. Watering: The Norway Spruce tolerates acidic soils well, but does not do well on dry or deficient soils. During times of drought, additional watering may be needed. Generally, we recommend watering your Norway about once per week.

3. Fertilizing: Feed your Norway mild, slow-acting fertilizer tabs for the initial growing season and save stronger fertilizers for when the tree is established. Once the tree is established, feed it twice a month during early spring and once a month during the summer months.

4. Pruning: Prune Norway Spruce Trees in the late winter or early spring. For young trees, follow branch tips back until you find two branches growing to either side. Snip off the center branch growth. Doing this will encourage the side branches that remain to grow faster and to make the tree bushier. Cut the lowest rung of branches on the tree to force more height.

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Norway Spruce: A Tree of Many Uses

Picea abies

The English resisted calling the Norway spruce by its name, instead referring to it as the “common spruce.” The Finnish claimed it as their own, calling it the Finn spruce, while others, the European spruce. Regardless of what you call it, the Norway spruce is a European staple. Best known for its durability and towering heights, the Norway spruce has spread its popularity across the Atlantic and into the U.S., becoming an American favorite.

What makes this tree even more likeable is its multiple uses. It is an important lumber crop in Europe, producing a strong light-weight wood with a straight grain, making it an ideal choice in construction. It’s a great landscape tree for its dense foliage and tall heights. The tree’s natural pyramidal shape and green color make it one of the most popular Christmas trees in the country.

Here are a few things to note if you’re considering adding a Norway spruce to your tree family.

Environmental Conditions:

  • Does well in acidic, clay, loamy, moist, sandy and well drained soils (hardiness zones 3-7).
  • Does well in full and partial sun.
  • Medium to fast growing tree, growing up to two feet a year and reaching 40-60 feet at maturity.

Physical Attributes:

  • Has dark green, one inch needles with squared tips, needles are retained for six to seven years before dropping.
  • Has a thin, reddish-brown bark that thickens and flakes off as the tree ages.
  • Cones start to form at age 30, with seeds dropping during the winter or early spring, providing food for wildlife.

Tag us in a photo with your Norway spruce!

Norway Spruce Tree

For a graceful accent in your yard, or a rugged member of an effective windbreak, try Norway Spruce (Picea abies). Perfect for use in cold weather zones, this superior choice evergreen makes an easy-care accent in the landscape.

This evergreen conifer has a characteristic pyramidal outline with a beautiful, noteworthy feature. Upright main branches are liberally covered with pendulous secondary branches that have a touch of pleasing “droop” to them. The overall look is one of graceful strength.

Additional classic, identifying features are the long, cylindrical spruce cones that hang from those drooping branches, almost like ornaments that were specially placed there. This is a fabulous accent tree for your landscape.

Norway Spruce trees will grow fast (up to 2 feet a year) and provide a large, attractive evergreen presence in your yard. Wild songbirds will appreciate the cover and a food source.

This is a long lived, elegant and hardy tree with a graceful form. Norway Spruce will provide you with beauty and interest.

Order this magnificent tree for your landscape today!

How to Use Norway Spruce Tree in the Landscape

Because the tree root system is strong, they can withstand high winds. The Norway Spruce makes an excellent windbreak. Plant 8-10 feet apart (measuring from trunk to trunk) for a solid green privacy screen. Plant on the north or northwest side of your property to create a wind barrier and lower your heating bills.

Norway Spruce is a sun lover and care should be taken when siting the tree. Give it plenty of room to reach it’s full height and spread as listed in the Plant Highlights.

These large scale trees are wonderful on properties with a lot of open ground to fill. Use them in windbreaks and shelterbelts as very effective screening hedges. You’ll make an enormous statement with a single specimen planted by itself.

The short needles are dark forest green and soft with sharp tips. New growth Norway Spruce tips have been used to make medicinal teas in Europe for millennia. The tree is also highly valued by the wildlife who use it for shelter, from the furrowed red bark to the leaves and seed

Cold weather regions could plant them as crop trees for valuable timber, used for furniture and musical instruments, as well as in construction. Many Christmas trees are Norway Spruce.

Cut some of the pendulous branches to use in winter container gardens. They can anchor an arrangement for winter. Simply place cut branches in your large pots, leaving some of the secondary branches to droop over the edges. Add Holly, Red Twig Dogwood, Curly Willow and other seasonal decorations, then enjoy!

#ProPlantTips for Care

Norway Spruce is a bit more resilient to some of the problems that can plague other Spruce in some areas of the country, and it’s generally carefree. It tolerates a variety of soils and conditions, including pollution.

It will not tolerate soils that do not drain well and will not tolerate drought very well – so in those drier years be sure to drop the hose beneath when it does get really dry.

Norway Spruce is somewhat shallow rooted and will greatly appreciate a few inches of mulch over its root zone to help hold the moisture and keep the mowers away from the lower branches. Always remember to keep all mulches away from the trunks and branches of your trees and plants but start with the mulch 6 inches or so away from the main stem.

Rutgers University tests plants for deer resistance and lists this plant as seldom severely damaged by deer. If a high deer population lives in your area, be sure to spray your new plants with deer repellent as you plant your trees. This will “train” the deer that they will not like this plant. It is always good to remind them right from the start.

Be sure to protect all of your new plants, no matter what the deer resistance rating is!

Norway Spruce is an easy-care landscape tree with so many wonderful features. If you have the room for a large evergreen tree, this is one of the best. Especially useful in cold winter zones, it will grow to create a dense, full screen to block unsightly views and bitter winds.

Order this bird-friendly tree today!

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