This species is a popular choice as a Christmas tree, which originated in 1841 when Prince Albert introduced an old German custom of decorating a Spruce tree with lights. Widespread in the UK but is native to mountainous areas of Europe. It was thought to be native in the last interglacial period, with records showing a reintroduction in 1548. In Greek mythology, the spruce is devoted to Artemis, goddess of the moon. It was the first gymnosperm to have its genome sequenced.
Culture for Spruce
Can grow up 40 metres and live up to 1000 years. More tolerant of hot and humid weather than most conifers. Prefers moist but well drained, slightly acidic soil, with an ideal pH in the range of 5.0 to 7.0. Favors full sun.
Concerns about Spruce
Green spruce aphid can be an issue. Spruce bark beetle is present in Europe and causes significant mortality, but is not yet present in the UK. Vine weevil is known to feed on Spruce, and occasionally Spruce midge can infest shoots and feed within galls. Rust and Needlecast foliar fungal diseases will affect this species. Norway spruce (P. abies) can be highly susceptible to Heterobasidion butt rot and other decay fungi. This species also experiences a disorder known as top dying/spruce decline, but the cause is unknown.
Management Practices for Spruce
Mid April to late May sprays of insecticide/spray oil can be applied to control aphids and fungicides to control needlecast /rust issues. Three sprays need to be applied. Winter wash (Oct to Feb) to prevent reinfection. Analyse soil for any imbalances/unsuitable conditions. Decay fungi should be investigated, and structural decay analyses using Picus Sonograph technology is advised. Maximizing tree vitality is important by mulching, irrigating and improving soil conditions (air spading).