White spruce is a large, pyramidal evergreen with aromatic foliage and uniform habit. This popular garden conifer is native to Canada and the northwestern United States. When sited properly white spruce can be a long-lived attractive addition to any landscape.
- Evergreen (foliage year-round)
- North America
- Zone 2
- Zone 3
- Zone 4
- Zone 5
- Zone 6
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Partial sun (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Occasional drought
- Alkaline soil
- Clay soil
- Acid soil
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Compact tree (10-15 feet)
- Early winter
- Mid winter
- Late winter
- Early spring
- Mid spring
- Late spring
- Early summer
- Mid summer
- Late summer
- Early fall
- Mid fall
- Late fall
Size & Form
40 to 60 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide
Broadly conical shape in youth becoming more loose and open with age.
Tree & Plant Care
Best in full sun, well-drained, sandy soils. Tolerant of clay soil but well drained soil a must.
The shallow, spreading root system benefits from a 3-4” layer of organic mulch.
Spruce need very little in the way of pruning.
Disease, pests, and problems
Cankers, root rots in wet soils and needlecast diseases.
Bagworm, sawfly and needle miners. One of hosts for eastern spruce gall adelgids
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to Canada and the northwestern United States in moist, cool climates.
Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife
Provides food and shelter for nuthatches, grosbeak, finches and chickadees.
Bark color and texture
Gray to silvery gray and scaly or flaky
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Pale green pointed needles are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, 4-sided, often crowded on the upper surface of the stem.
The aromatic needles can persist for 3 to 4 years before dropping.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Both male and female flowers are small and insignificant, found on the same tree.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
White Spruce has the smallest cones of any of the spruces, typically 1 to 2 inches long, cylindrical and pendulous, often clustered near the top of the tree. They are a medium green color throughout much of the summer, and turn brown in autumn and winter. Cones scales are thin, rounded and have smooth margins. A favorite of many birds.
Cultivars and their differences
Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica'): 6 to 8 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide; pyramidal; extremely slow, seldom produces cones. Good for small spaces
Black Hills Spruce (Picea glauca var. densata): 20 to 40 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide, very narrow, dense form, slow growing. Good for space restrictions, screen or windbreak.