Plant of the month series May 2018 for Boulder and Longmont, Colorado area landscapes
MAY: COMPACT ORIENTAL SPRUCE
Picea orientalis compacta is a slow growing evergreen that is highly prized in a specimen evergreen garden landscape. Growing only 12’ high and 5-6’ wide after 40 years, it is a fabulous addition to a small yard. Also called Causasian Spruce, it is native to the Caucasus and northeast Turkey. It can also be found in northern Iran. The standard of the species grows to 145’ tall, but this little cultivar has been procured in European and English gardens for decades. It is a common addition to cultivated European and American landscapes.
Thriving from USDA plant hardiness zones 4-8, Compact Oriental Spruce will do well in a variety of soils, though extremely heavy clays should be amended to keep from excessive water retention. Drainage is important, but it will be adaptive to most soil types, even slightly alkaline soils like those that are found in the local Longmont Colorado landscapes. It requires moderate moisture, but does not like wet feet for too long. It thrives in full sun, but some protection from wind and a little shading will help with winter sunburn which can happen to many evergreens here in Colorado. Occasional diseases or pests are spider mites after a long hot dry spell in summer, or Spruce needle cast which can cause inner oldest needles to drop from the bottom upward.
This landscaper is a fan of many types of dwarf to semi-dwarf coniferous evergreens. A new mini forest has been started, with Compact Oriental Spruce as just one of many. They make a great addition to any garden. This month’s landscape joke is, “What do you do if you get lost in an Icelandic forest?”……Just stand up! The dwarf evergreens are great fun, but pricey and slow growing. Plant several now for years of enjoyment.
- Check out last month’s Plant of the Month.