Columnar Norway Spruce

Columnar Norway Spruce, A Comprehensive Guide

Columnar Norway Spruce (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’), is today widely established, evergreen, upright tree, and distinguished by its slender columnar growth pattern. It is a beautiful and adaptable tree that provides vertical appeal to different garden environments. It is a favorite option for homeowners and landscapers, has a thin design and requires little upkeep.


They grow to reach 30 feet tall and spread 10 feet. It has a low canopy and should not be planted underneath power lines. It grows quickly and, in perfect circumstances, has a 50-year or longer lifespan.


Plant this tree in full sun. It thrives in moderately to uniformly moist situations but cannot withstand standing water. Apparently they can withstand ambient salinity and is not sensitive to the pH or kind of soil, and may even flourish in inner city settings and has a high tolerance for pollutants from cities. This particular variant of the plant is not native to North America.



Columnar Norway spruce is characterized by its tall, narrow shape, which resembles a column or spire. Usually reaching a height of 20-30 feet and spreading only 3 to 5 feet, it’s a great option for tight locations or as a vertical emphasis in the landscape.


Foliage of Columnar Norway spruce:

The tree has dark green needles that are short (about 0.5 inches long) and sharp-pointed. The needles are arranged densely along the branches, giving the tree a lush appearance.


Cone Production:

Like other Norway spruce varieties, they produces small, cylindrical cones that hang down from the branches. These cones are usually reddish-brown in color and add to the tree’s ornamental value.


Growth Rate:

Columnar Norway spruce has a slow to moderate growth rate, adding about 6 to 12 inches of height per year, making it easy to maintain in a small space, as it does not require frequent pruning to control its size.


Cultural Requirements:

This tree does best in full sun to partial shade and favors moist, well-drained soil. Once grown, it requires little care and can withstand urban environments, which makes it an excellent option for urban settings.


Landscape Uses:

Columnar Norway spruce is often used as a specimen tree in formal gardens, as a vertical accent in mixed borders, or as a screen or windbreak, with its narrow form allowing it to fit into tight spaces where other trees may not be suitable.


Pests and Diseases of Columnar Norway spruce:

While generally a hardy tree, these can be susceptible to common spruce pests such as aphids, spider mites, and spruce budworms. Proper maintenance, including regular watering and pruning, can help reduce the risk of pest infestations.


Winter Interest:

The evergreen foliage of Norway spruce provides year-round interest, adding color and texture to the winter landscape when many other plants are dormant.



Where does Columnar Norway Spruce grow best?


They grows best in temperate climates with cool to cold winters and mild summers. It thrives in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 8, which cover a wide range of regions across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Norway spruce tree needs well-drained, wet soil and full sun rather than some shade for optimal growth. It doesn’t mind being too damp or dry as it can be applied to different soil types, such as sandy, clay, and loam.


Known to be tolerant to urban conditions, including pollution and compacted soil, making it a suitable choice for city landscapes. However, it may not perform well in extreme hot and humid climates, where it may be more prone to pests and diseases.


When given the right conditions, these spruce is a very adaptable tree that may flourish in different settings.


Varieties of columnar Norway spruce:


There are several varieties of Norway spruce (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’) with slight variations in growth habit, color, and other characteristics like:

Picea abies ‘Cupressina’ (Classic Columnar Norway Spruce): This is the standard variety known for its tall, narrow, columnar growth habit, and has dark green needles and produces small, reddish-brown cones.

Picea abies ‘Cupressina Nigra’ (Black Columnar Norway Spruce): This variety features darker green needles than the classic ‘Cupressina,’ giving it a more striking appearance while retaining its columnar shape and often used for vertical accents in the landscape.

Picea abies ‘Cupressina Aurea’ (Golden Columnar Norway Spruce): This kind adds a vivid splash of color to the landscape with its yellow-green to golden-yellow foliage while maintaining the columnar growth habit of the species and prized for its ornamental value.

Picea abies ‘Cupressina Glauca’ (Blue Columnar Norway Spruce): This variety has bluish-green needles, giving it a distinctive blue hue and grows tall and narrow, making it a striking addition to the garden.

Picea abies ‘Cupressina’ ‘Inversa’ (Weeping Columnar Norway Spruce): This variety has a unique weeping form, with branches cascading downwards and maintaining the columnar growth habit, but with a more graceful- weeping appearance.


These varieties of columnar Norway spruce provide different options for adding vertical interest and color to the landscape. They are generally low-maintenance and thrive in various growing conditions, making them ideal for gardens and landscapes.



How to grow and maintain Columnar Norway Spruce tree:


To grow and tend for a Norway spruce tree (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’), follow these guidelines:


Planting the Columnar Norway spruce:

Pick a spot that gets full sunlight to partial shade and has well-draining soil, and create a hole slightly larger than the root ball. Plant the tree at the same depth as it was in the container.



Give freshly planted trees regular irrigation to maintain a damp but not soggy soil. Columnar Norway spruce, once established, can withstand droughts, though it will benefit from sporadic irrigation when conditions are dry.



Apply a balanced fertilizer formulated for evergreen trees in early springtime before new growth begins. Refer to the guidelines provided on the fertilizer package and apply as recommended.



Prune any broken or dead branches as needed to keep it in form, given severe pruning may damage the tree’s natural shape.



Apply a 2 – 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the tree to assist in retaining moisture and suppressing weeds. Keep the mulch several inches away from the trunk to avoid rotting.



Protect young trees from deer, rabbits, and other animals that may browse on the foliage. Use fencing or repellents to deter these animals.


Pests and Diseases:

Scout the tree for pests such as aphids, spider mites, and spruce budworms and treat infestations promptly with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Watch for signs of diseases like needle cast or canker, and take appropriate measures to control them.


Winter Care:

Water the tree well in late fall before the ground freezes to help prevent winter dehydration. Consider wrapping the tree in burlap or using anti-desiccant sprays to protect it from winter damage.

These tips will help you grow and tend for a beautiful, robust, columnar Norway spruce tree in your environment.



Uses of Columnar Norway Spruce tree:


Columnar Norway spruce (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’) has several uses in landscaping and gardening due to its unique growth habit and ornamental qualities. Some common uses include:


Vertical Accent:

The tall, narrow form of columnar Norway spruce makes it an excellent choice for adding vertical interest to the landscape. It can be used as a focal point in the garden or to create a screen or windbreak.


Privacy Screen:

Columnar Norway spruce trees can form a dense, evergreen privacy screen that provides year-round screening from neighbors or unsightly views when planted in a row.


Formal Garden:

The formal, upright growth habit of columnar Norway spruce makes it well-suited for formal garden settings to frame entryways or pathways.


Container Planting:

In areas with limited space, columnar Norway spruce can be grown in containers on patios or balconies, with its narrow form allowing it to fit into tight spaces while still providing a vertical element.


Winter Interest:

The evergreen foliage of columnar Norway spruce provides color and texture to the winter landscape when many other plants are dormant, making it a valuable addition to winter gardens.



Columnar Norway spruce can be used as a windbreak to protect more tender plants from strong winds when planted in a row.


Wildlife Habitat:

The dense foliage of columnar Norway spruce offers shelter and hatching sites for birds and many other wildlife, making it an excellent addition to wildlife gardens.


Erosion Control:

Columnar Norway spruce can help control erosion by stabilizing the soil with its deep root system and dense foliage if planted on slopes or banks.


Also read other interesting topics including

1. Eastern White Pine, How to Grow and Care

2. Japanese Maple Tree

Advantages and disadvantages of columnar Norway spruce tree:


Columnar Norway spruce (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’) is a popular choice for landscaping, but like any plant, it has both advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the main ones:



  1.    Narrow Growth Habit: The columnar shape of this tree makes it ideal for small gardens or narrow spaces where a traditional tree may not fit.
  2. Vertical Accent: Its tall, narrow form adds vertical interest to the landscape, making it a great focal point or accent plant.
  3. Year-Round Interest: The evergreen foliage of these trees provides year-round color and texture to the garden, even in winter.
  4. Low Maintenance: Once established, columnar Norway spruce is relatively low maintenance and requires minimal pruning to maintain its shape.
  5. Tolerant of Urban Conditions: This tree is tolerant of pollution and compacted soil, making it suitable for urban environments.
  6. Wildlife Habitat: The dense foliage provides cover and nesting sites for birds and other wildlife.



  1.    Slow Growth:While some may consider this a benefit for maintenance purposes, others may find the slow growth rate less appealing if they are looking for a tree that will quickly reach a certain height.
  2.    Susceptibility to Pests and Diseases:Like other spruce trees, columnar Norway spruce can be susceptible to pests such as aphids, spider mites, and spruce budworms, as well as diseases such as needle cast and canker.
  3.    Limited Use:While its narrow form is an advantage in some situations, it can also be a limitation in others, as it may not provide the same amount of shade or screening as a wider tree.
  4.    Potential for Overcrowding:If planted too closely together, columnar Norway spruce trees can become overcrowded, leading to competition for light and nutrients.



How long does a columnar Norway spruce tree live?


These trees can live for 150–300 years. However, growth conditions, maintenance, and environmental factors can affect how long a plant lives. With proper care, columnar Norway spruce can live for several centuries, providing beauty and structure to the landscape for generations.



Can you propagate the columnar Norway spruce tree from seeds?


Yes, you can propagate columnar Norway spruce (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’) from seeds, but it’s important to note that the offspring may not necessarily inherit the columnar growth habit of the parent tree. Here’s how you can propagate columnar Norway spruce from seeds:


Seed Collection:

Collect mature cones from a healthy tree in the fall when the cones have turned brown but are still closed. Place the cones in a paper bag and allow them to dry for a few weeks until they open and release the seeds.


Seed Extraction:

Remove the seeds from the cones and separate them from any debris. The seeds are small and winged, similar to other spruce seeds.


Seed Treatment:

They have a stiff seed coat that can prevent germination. To increase germination rates, place the seeds in a plastic bag with damp sand or peat moss and store in the refrigerator for 1 – 2 months. This procedure replicates the cold, moist conditions the seeds may naturally encounter over the winter.


Planting Seeds:

Use seed trays or pots with a well-draining potting mix. Plant the stratified seeds about 1/4 inch- deep in the soil and gently cover them with a thin coating of dirt. After planting, give the dirt a good soak. Soak the soil thoroughly after planting.



Put the seed trays or pots in a cool, shaded area or a refrigerator for the cold stratification period. After stratification, place the trays in a warm, sunny spot and maintain a constant moisture content but not soggyness in the soil.



After stratification, place the trays in a warm, sunny spot and maintain a constant moisture content but not soggyness in the soil.



Provide adequate water and sunlight for the seedlings as they continue to grow. Protect them from extreme temperatures, pests, and diseases.



Common pests and diseases of the Columnar Norway spruce tree


It is susceptible to a few common pests and diseases, although it is generally considered a hardy and low-maintenance tree.


Here are some of the main pests and diseases to watch out for:





Aphids are little, squishy insects that consume tree sap. They may result in growth retardation, needle yellowing, and the formation of a sticky material known as honeydew.

Spider Mites: These microscopic arachnids cause the tree’s needles to turn yellow or bronze by feeding on them. A tree’s health may deteriorate, and foliage lost due to severe infestations.


Spruce Budworms: 

Spruce budworms are caterpillars that feed on the buds of the tree, turning them brown and dying. Severe infestations can lead to defoliation and branch dieback.


Spruce Gall Adelgids: 

Spruce gall adelgids are tiny insects that cause the formation of galls (abnormal growths) on the twigs of the tree. While galls are unsightly, they usually do not cause serious harm to the tree.




Needle Cast: 

A fungal disease that causes the tree’s needles to become brown and fall off too soon is called needle cast. It is most common in damp, humid conditions and can be prevented by enhancing air circulation around the tree.


Canker Diseases: 

Canker diseases result in sunken, dead patches on a tree’s bark and are brought on by different fungi and bacteria. If left untreated, cankers can girdle branches and finally destroy the tree.


Root Rot: 

Different soil-borne fungi can infect a tree’s roots, causing root degradation and a reduction in the health of the tree. Yellowing needles, slowed growth, and branch dieback are some of the symptoms.


Rust Diseases: 

Fungi that generate orange, rust-colored patches on tree needles are the cause of rust diseases. Rust infections can weaken a tree and increase its susceptibility to other pests and diseases, while they are usually not lethal.


What is the price of columnar Norwegian spruce tree?

Columnar Norway spruce trees (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’) vary in price based on a number of variables, such as the tree’s size, age, and seller. Smaller trees in pots or containers are typically less expensive than larger, more established trees.


On average, a small columnar Norway spruce tree in a 1-gallon container can cost anywhere from $20 to $50. Larger trees in 5-gallon containers or burlap-wrapped root balls can range from $50 to $150 or more, depending on the size and quality of the tree.



Where to purchase columnar Norway spruce tree:


Columnar Norway spruce trees (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’) are available for purchase from a number of places, such as internet shops, garden centers, and nearby nurseries. Columnar Norway spruce trees can be bought in the following ways:


Local Nurseries and Garden Centers:

Check with nurseries and garden centers in your area that specialize in trees and shrubs. They may carry columnar Norway spruce trees or be able to order them for you.


Online Retailers:

Most online retailers, like Amazon, Etsy, and specialty plant websites, sell columnar Norway spruce trees. Always read the customer reviews and look up the seller’s reputation When buying something.


Arboretums and Botanical Gardens:

Some arboretums and botanical gardens sell plants and trees, including columnar Norway spruce, as a way to support their operations. Check with local arboretums and botanical gardens to see if they have any for sale.


Landscaping Companies:

Landscaping companies specializing in trees and shrubs may sell Norway spruce trees. They may also offer planting and maintenance services.


Tree Farms:

Some tree farms grow and sell columnar Norway spruce trees. Visiting a tree farm can give you the opportunity to select a tree in person and see how it will look in your landscape.



It’s important to note that Eastern white pine trees grown from seeds may exhibit some genetic variability, so not all seedlings will necessarily resemble the parent tree exactly.


While propagating columnar Norway spruce from seeds can be a fun and rewarding process, however, the resulting trees may not exhibit the same columnar growth habit as the parent tree. Consider propagating columnar Norway spruce through cuttings or grafting for more reliable results.


These trees should be maintained using sound cultural methods, such as proper fertilization and watering, pruning to increase air circulation, and routinely checking the tree for disease or pest activity. In extreme cases, chemical treatments may be essential, so it’s best to consult with a professional arborist or horticulturist for advice.


Additionally, prices could differ based on the area and the trees’ availability. It’s crucial to compare prices from different nurseries, garden centers, and online retailers to find the best deal.


Before purchasing this spruce tree, consider your planting site and ensure it meets the growing requirements. It’s a good idea to inquire about the tree’s size, health, and any guarantees or warranties offered.

Overall, columnar Norway spruce is a versatile and attractive tree that can be a valuable addition to the landscape, especially in limited spaces or where a vertical accent is desired. It is crucial to consider its growth habits and potential limitations when choosing it for your garden.