Though not the best known spruce, Serbian spruce is certainly one of the most handsome. This large conifer has a very graceful form, with a narrow columnar or spire-like shape and drooping side branches that swoop upward toward the tips. This beautifully displays the tree’s two-toned foliage—the short, sharp-tipped needles are dark green on the upper surface and silvery blue-green below. At maturity, it bears small pendant brown cones. Serbian spruce is quite adaptable (though it doesn’t do well in the warmest zones) and is well worth adding to your landscape.
Common name: Serbian spruce
Botanical name: Picea omorika
Plant type: Evergreen tree
Zones: 4 to 7
Height: 40 to 60 feet
• Sun: Full sun or partial shade
• Soil: Loamy to sandy
• Moisture: Evenly moist but well-drained
• Mulch: 2 to 3 inches of wood chips or other organic mulch
• Pruning: Only to remove damaged branches
• Fertilizer: Apply compost or balanced fertilizer annually if needed.
• Grafting (for cultivars)
Pests and diseases
• ‘Nana’ is a slow-growing dwarf cultivar with a dense, oval to conical shape.
• ‘Pendula Bruns’ has an upright leader but very pendulous side branches.
• ‘Blue Sky’ has bluer foliage than the species.
• The silvery color on the lower needle surface is actually due to the presence of several bands of stomates (small pores).
• Its narrow form makes Serbian spruce a great choice for cramped spaces (just make sure there are no overhead power lines or other obstructions).
All in the family
• Serbian spruce is a member of the pine family (Pinaceae), which contains many important landscape and timber trees including pines, spruces and firs.
• Though most spruce species grow as tall trees, dwarf cultivars have been selected within many spruce species.
Where to buy
• Conifer Kingdom, Silverton, OR; 503-894-6123; www.coniferkingdom.com
• Forestfarm, Williams, OR; 541-846-7269; www.forestfarm.com
• Wayside Gardens, Hodges, SC; 800-845-1124; www.waysidegardens.com