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My Favorite Plant
by 2004 ICN Pro of the Year Robert Milani of the Chalet

Picea abies or Norway Spruce

Here we are and the fall season is upon us! Most of us are looking forward to a beautiful and colorful display of red, orange, crimson and yellow in our landscapes. Under normal circumstances, this would be the case. However, due to this persistent drought, especially in the Chicagoland area, all we will see are disappointing hues of green and brown.   Hopefully, the temperatures will moderate and the rains will come.  

When the leaves turn color and fall, most people realize then that their summer landscape buffer that has provided so much privacy during the season is gone! This creates panic amongst many homeowners and provides a perfect opportunity to use this month’s favorite plant – Picea abies or Norway Spruce.

The Norway Spruce is a common plant in the landscape trade. There are many reasons for its popularity. The first reason is versatility. The Norway Spruce can be planted in full sun to full shade. Its shade tolerance allows landscape architects and designers to utilize it in many ways – as a focal point or grouped together as a neutral evergreen screen to block undesirable views. Furthermore, Norway Spruce tolerate poor soil conditions including poor drainage.   Very few evergreens can grow let alone survive under these conditions. Finally, Norway Spruce are resistant to most diseases and pests as well as being extremely adaptable to many climates.

In general, this tree has a pyramidal outline with a strong central leader. Its horizontal branches, which are stiff in youth, transform into a more pendulous habit with age. The short dark green needles average ½” to 1” long. The 4” to 6” long cones are purple-violet to greenish purple in youth and, as the tree ages, light brown. Like all spruce, the Norway Spruce needs plenty space to grow and averages between 40’ to 60’ high by 25’ to 30’ wide. Winter hardiness ranges from zones 2 to 7

As the season winds down and homeowners begin to realize the need for privacy or that specimen evergreen focal point, consider using a dependable and adaptable Norway Spruce. It will provide ease of maintenance and years of beauty to come!





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