Plant of the month. November 2014: CUPRESSINA NORWAY SPRUCE

Cupressina Norway Spruce has become a popular and hardy addition to the Front Range of Colorado landscape scene in the last 10 years or so.

Well, here we are in November and have been blessed by a warm, relatively dry October here along the Front Range of Colorado. This has meant great fall colors and an extended fall growing and planting season for Glacier View Landscape. But, it is now time to turn the plant of the month series more toward the evergreens and other plants that will give us interest throughout the winter months. First on the list is Cupressina Norway Spruce (Picea abies) or Columnar Norway Spruce. This is a stunning coniferous evergreen that adds a strong vertical accent to any garden landscape and is ideal for the smaller lots often found in suburban subdivisions, or even small urban courtyards. It was discovered in Germany just over a century ago and has been cultivated since for its fast vertical growth habits, softer short green/blue needles, and hardiness to our cold winters around Boulder, Colorado.

Hardy from Zones 4-7 and up to about 7000’ here in Colorado, Cupressina Norway Spruce is a great accent and framing plant from a design perspective on the corners of homes, corners of the lot, or can stand on its own as a character specimen with other evergreens and shrubs around it….more as a focal point for a hidden garden corner. It has a great shape for hanging holiday lights onto, and, because of its conical shape, it handles and sheds heavy snows easily. Growth habit is mostly from the top of the tree where it can put on up to 18” per year once established. It needs moderate to slightly dry conditions and must be watched carefully for overwatering when first planted. They are usually harvested with smaller rootballs and therefore they can easily become waterlogged and shed all needles and die quickly. Plant with copious amounts of soil amendments as all evergreens can struggle with our Colorado clay soils and the homogenized soil structures found in established subdivisions. Once established, though, it is both drought tolerant for short periods and can handle more moist conditions as well. They will handle full sun just fine, but can also do well in part shade. Because of the strong vertical growth habit, maximum height can top 40’, but still maintain a width of no more than about 6’. Cupressina derived its name from the Cyprus (Latin is Cupressus) for the needle like growth habit similar to the Italian Cyprus that dot the Mediterranean hillsides. Most new growth is from the top which is how it maintains its narrow stature.

Cupressina Norway Spruce has become a popular and hardy addition to the Boulder landscaping scene in the last 10 years or so. They are being supplied abundantly by the nurseries in Oregon. Find one at your local nursery and compare. You won’t be disappointed to have one or five in your landscape.

Thanks for reading!