Picea omorika, more often known as the Serbian spruce, is a species of evergreen conifer that can grow to be 70 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Growing only three to six inches per year, the dwarf cultivar “Nana” (Picea omorika “Nana”) has a height and spread of four to eight feet. According to the USDA, they can survive in plant hardiness zones 4 through 8.
These trees can withstand more air pollution, hot and humid conditions, and deer damage than most spruce species, and they are resistant to damage by deer. Although they require little attention once established, a gardener must do extra work when it comes time to transplant the plants.
The Serbian spruce (Picea Omorika) can grow up to 50 meters tall, and its crown is shaped like a narrow pyramid or a pointed column. The botanist Joseph Panchich was drawn in by the spruce’s magnificent beauty and unique structure. He found it and wrote a description of it in 1875. Landscape architects have extensively used the plant since 1880. Such a tree is not only very gorgeous but also quite resilient to harsh weather. This conifer is unafraid of harsh frosts and unaffected by the smog surrounding cities.
The main characteristics of Serbian spruce:
- The average height of the plant varies from 30 to 40 m, while the diameter of the trunk can reach about 100 cm;
- The bark is colored brownish-yellow;
- Short shoots growing high from the soil surface have tops curved upwards;
- Densely growing young shoots at the branches bend down;
- The shape of the crown is narrow-pyramidal or columnar, and at the top, there is a sharpening;
- The branches are decorated with thick needles, while needles are about 0.2 cm wide and 0.8 to 1.8 cm long, their front surface is dark green, and the wrong side is whitish-blue;
- Oblong thin cones have an average length of about 60–80 mm;
- While the cones are young, they are colored green, while their scales are tightly pressed, and as they mature, their color changes to brown;
- Since the tree is fast growing, its root system is powerful and well-developed;
- This conifer is a long-liver – 200–800 years, while the life expectancy depends on the growth conditions;
- Reproduction in nature occurs by self-seeding.
Serbian spruce is well-liked in culture. It can be utilized to build compositions as an element that generates a wild nature effect and is excellent for establishing a green hedge along the site’s perimeter. The plant is unafraid of abrupt temperature fluctuations and is unaffected by smoke and other dangerous air pollutants.
Due to the abundance of Serbian spruce hybrids, you can use this plant alone to produce miniature alpine hills and forest clearings on your property. Both outdoors and indoors, dwarf cultivars can be produced. Such a tree requires very little maintenance and doesn’t have any unique requirements for growth.
Care for Serbian Spruce “Picea Omorika.”
This plant is sluggish to mature, but it can withstand extended periods of drought once it does. It needs regular irrigation to set down strong root systems throughout its first year. Supplemental irrigation during extreme heat is still required, even after the plant has matured, especially if you live in zone 7.
Serbian spruce thrives in northern latitudes when given ample sunlight. It may do even better in zone 7 if given some protection from the sun.
Serbian spruce requires well-drained, somewhat fertile soil to thrive.
No matter how much rain falls during their initial growing season, young plants still need to be watered about once per week. The task should be completed with a steady flow of water at a leisurely speed for an hour. Saturating the soil to a depth of up to 8 inches (20 cm) every few days is preferable to daily watering during excessive heat. A stronger, more drought-resistant plant results from deep watering, which encourages the roots to spread and develop deeper into the soil.
To find out how much water is in the soil, you can either use your finger or a hand trowel to dig a small hole and examine the soil. Water the plant if the top two to four inches (five to ten centimeters) of soil are dry. It’s crucial to keep an eye on a new plant and give it just the right amount of water for its first two years. After that, they will have gained the strength necessary to sustain themselves.
Temperature and Humidity
The Serbian spruce is best suited to northern latitudes, making it unsuitable for residential landscaping south of USDA zone 7. In the Southeast of the United States, the summers are often too humid and hot for Serbian spruce to thrive.
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To keep established trees healthy, fertilization should be done every two to three years. Spring is the best time to feed your plants because they are just getting started growing. Granulated, slow-release, liquid feed, organic, and synthetic fertilizers are all readily accessible on the market today. Select a product made for trees and shrubs after figuring out the best application technique for your specific situation. Choose a multipurpose formula that provides a balanced diet, such as 10.10.10.
Fertilizers should be applied at the rates and times specified on the packaging. Excessive fertilizer or fertilizer applied at the wrong time during the growing season can harm plants.
It may be necessary to prune to eliminate diseased or damaged branches, promote fuller growth, encourage more pruning, or keep the plant at a desired size and form. Dead branches should be pruned as close to the trunk as possible, ideally flush with the bark. It is best to make your cuts slightly slanted and just above the leaf bud when pruning to manage the size or shape of a plant. It is from this bud that new growth will develop.
Regular trimming of many species of shrubs is necessary to keep them in check and the desired shape for use as a boundary or edge plant or as part of a more formal foundation planting.
Sharp, clean tools are essential for effective pruning. A vast toolbox may be tapped into for a wide range of jobs. The vast majority of shrubs can be cared for using hand shears, pruners, or loppers. We recommend using pole pruners and tree saws when working with large shrubs and trees. If a tree is too large for a pole pruner to reach safely, a professional tree service should be contacted for assistance.
Propagation for Serbian Spruce
Growing from Seed
Serbian spruce can also be grown from seed. Some speculation is that damaging the seed’s outer layer can speed up germination. The temperature must fluctuate from cold to warm and back again to cool the seeds into thinking that winter is over and the growing season is about to end.
In the fall, sow the seeds in a planting tray filled with moist potting soil supplemented with peat moss and sand. You should bury them a quarter of an inch. Put this dish in a plastic bag in the back of the fridge, where it will stay for at least four months.
To start gradually warming the seeds, bring the tray containing them into a cool garage or cellar. As spring approaches, take the process outdoors on warm days to continue. The seedlings need to “harden off” on their tray for four weeks after germination in the early spring. Give them at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day. The only time they can be planted outside is when all danger of frost has passed.
The majority of types can be bred using this technique. Branches at the top of the crown are utilized for cutting harvesting and must be older than 5 years. The handle should be between 15 and 25 cm in length. The segment should be planted at an angle in a greenhouse with a portion of the segment’s needles removed for roots. It is advised to keep the air inside the greenhouse at least 25 degrees.
Grafting is used to create weeping varieties. However, since this is difficult to perform, gardeners typically buy these spruce seedlings from nurseries.
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Diseases and Pests
Serbian spruce has excellent immunity, but like most other representatives of conifers, it has low resistance to certain diseases and pests. Most often, the plant suffers from pests such as:
Aphid. In the affected plant, the entire needles can fly around. To save the tree, it is recommended to treat it with onion or garlic infusion or a solution of potassium soap.
Spider mite. This pest is activated during a prolonged drought. You can destroy it with the help of colloidal sulfur or an infusion of garlic.
Mealybug. As a rule, the pest enters spruce through infected garden soil. Before proceeding with the treatment with an insecticidal preparation, it is recommended first to remove the pests with your hands, or you should try to destroy their protection from the web.
Caterpillars. They love to eat needles. Destroy them by treating the tree with bitoxibacillin.
Spruces are most often affected by viral and fungal diseases. An affected tree can be cured with a solution of a fungicidal preparation. In this case, spraying the plant itself and the surface of the soil near it is necessary. At the end of the treatment, be sure to shed the soil with water. Be sure to prune any diseased branches to help prevent damage to otherwise healthy shoots.
Application and Benefits
The Serbian spruce is frequently grown both outdoors and indoors. Additionally, it is frequently utilized to land in cities. They shield the residential area from dusty and gas-filled roadways with the help of this plant’s spectacular types found in city parks and squares. The plant’s high resistance to the poisons and hazardous chemicals in smoggy urban air makes this possible.
These trees are planted with trees of other species as part of the landscaping for forest parks. This plant can be grown in several locations and requires little maintenance. That explains why it is so well-liked in society.
Serbian spruce is a tree that landscape architects frequently use. This plant appears very spectacular when it is surrounded by stones, dwarf firs, or close to a stone fence. Some types stand out for having incredibly odd shapes, which is why they resemble trees from fairy tales. They are excellent for composing plots because of this.
Because the several cultivars of this plant seem very different, only Serbian spruce is frequently utilized to make an alpine glade or a forest nook. Consider the susceptibility to diseases and the maintenance requirements while selecting “neighboring” plants.
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Varieties of Serbian Spruce
The distinctive appearance of the numerous Serbian spruce draws attention to them. Such a plant has outward variations among each of its variants. The kinds that are cultivated in culture the most frequently are dwarf and wide-pin-shaped high-mountain variants. Landscape designers frequently use these types in their creations.
The peculiar needle color of this species makes it distinctive. In the summer, they have painted a greenish-yellow tint, but in the fall, they turn greenish-blue. In full sun, the Aurea Omorika cultivar thrives. The trunk can grow between 9 and 12 meters tall. The tree grows rather quickly; it adds about 0.3 m to its yearly height. It stands out for having strong frost resistance (up to minus 29 degrees). Undemanding of the soil’s chemical makeup.
The appearance of this variety is very unusual. It is unlike any other tree. Its trunk has a curved shape, and it is decorated with a narrow weeping crown. This tall bizarre plant can become a real “fabulous” decoration for any garden. This variety looks great with other tree species, as well as with other varieties of Serbian spruce. Near it, a variety of decorative structures and buildings are often placed, for the creation of which natural materials were used.
In height, such a tree can reach about 10 m and in diameter – up to 1 m. The lush fluffy crown consists of tightly fitting branches. It is distinguished by its light-loving and frost resistance. The soil surface in the near-trunk circle should be regularly loosened, which will help to avoid the stagnation of moisture in the roots. In addition, during the dry, hot period, the pendula must be systematically watered.
One of the most common types of Serbian spruce is this one. Such dwarf trees range in height from 0.6 to 0.9 meters. This plant appears like a shrub from the outside, goes well with other species, and is frequently used to spruce up a garden plot. The rich crown is shaped obliquely. Branches develop in many directions. It grows by around 10 cm per year.
It is advised to pick a location with fertile soil for planting such a plant. It is resistant to sickness and cold.
This dwarf cultivar has a small form and is quite beautiful. It is fantastic for outdoor décor and complements the Heather group beautifully. The tree grows very slowly; its height barely rises by 3 to 4 meters after thirty years.
Hard, short shoots are embellished with short needles with a pair of whitish stripes on their front surface and bluish-green underside. The cultivar grows nicely in a little shade yet feels excellent in direct sunlight. The tree exhibits strong resilience to frost (up to minus 40 degrees). It needs regular watering during the hot summer months; the soil should not be allowed to dry up.
This cultivar grows slowly, barely attaining a height of 0.6–0.7 m. Furthermore, the bottom portion of the tree can have a diameter of up to 50 cm. The crown of this dwarf cultivar is asymmetrical and has an odd pyramidal form. Curved needles gathered in bunches serve as decorations on the branches. They have a silvery reverse side and are painted with a greenish-gray tint.
This cultivar is frequently planted both single and in groups by landscape designers. It thrives in sunny climates and has a good level of frost resistance. This particular type also does well in urban locations.
The sluggish growth and asymmetrical crown form of this dwarf hybrid type are distinguishing features. The plant’s height can increase to 150–200 cm at age ten. This plant does best in sunny locations and is quite frost resistant. Landscape architects frequently use this type to fashion tiny woodland glades or add heather to a Japanese garden.
In Europe, this type is highly well-liked. In this sense, Russian gardeners frequently need to order this kind from overseas. The lowest branches fit together like a “skirt,” while the upper ones appear to writhe. The crown has a pyramidal form. The needles of this plant are especially appealing because of their variegated hue. The needles’ color can range from light blue to dark green. The plant can grow as tall as 150 cm after ten years.
This dwarf type looks a lot like the Nana variety. But Nana Pimoko grows very slowly—at thirty years old, the tree is only 0.9 meters tall. The crown has a nest-like form. The tips of the green needles are painted a light blue color. It has a high level of cold hardiness and requires little sunlight.
Other Serbian spruce types are equally popular in culture and stand out for their decorative qualities. For instance:
The crown is shaped like a little conical cone. It stands out for its comparatively quick growth; at age 10, it can grow as tall as 10 meters. From spring until autumn, the brilliant golden-white hue of the needles does not change.
Due to its peculiar appearance, this type is sometimes known as the “weeping” spruce. A thin top and gently hung branches embellished with falling shoots make up the crown. At the same time, it was discovered that a plant’s attractiveness improved with age.
Its most striking feature is the reddish-purple buds on this plant, which eventually become brown. The grayish-red bark has a rough texture. Flat, dark green needles.
The crown has a conical form. Such a dwarf cultivar only grows 80 mm in length each year. This tree develops quite slowly; at age 10, it is between 0.6 and 0.7 meters tall. The multicolored needles on this cultivar make it distinctive. They have a front surface that is greenish-yellow and a back surface that is greenish-silver.
Falling branches adorned with dark green needles make up the crown. The crown of an adult plant is thin but hardly thick because the branches are rarely present. The tree is roughly 7 meters tall.
This dwarf cultivar has a conical crown. A mature plant only grows to a height of 200 cm. Short, rigid branches develop upward. They have thick, bluish-green needles as decorations.
The wide-cone crown’s top is rounded. Short, chubby shoots covered in gleaming silver-green needles adorn the trunk. At age ten, this slow-growing tree only grows to a height of 0.6 m.
The narrow crown is shaped erratically. The branches that have been lowered have green needles with white and yellow specks.
Such a dwarf variety grows to around 0.6 m and has a spherical crown. The upward-facing branches are very stiff. Short, dark green needles with a whitish-blue hue make up the thick needles.
Branches pointing upward make up the impressive and dense crown. The needles are dark green with a bluish-blue hue. Select a roomy, sunny space for your cultivation.