Meyers Spruce: Oh Tannenbaum
What better time of year to talk about spruce trees than near Christmas! My focus will be on the trees that you actually want to leave in your yard: not to cut down! The last 50 years the two spruce trees that have been most popular in our region have been the White Spruce and the Colorado Blue. Over the last 20 years the Black Hills selection of white spruce have become more popular. This is because the tree is very hardy and has denser branching and a darker green winter colour. Both the White Spruce and the Colorado Blue have good attributes. Blue Spruce have been known to winter-burn depending on where they’re from. Again, recently we have introduced Crystal Blue which is a selection from the Southern Manitoba. This tree is at least a half a zone cold hardier than its forerunners. It’s branching is tighter and a little narrower than the other species. Colorado’s do have more susceptibility to fungal problems in higher humidity regions like ours. I don’t discourage people from planting individuals or small groups but I would not invest in them for a shelterbelt row. You don’t want to lose everything when you work so hard for it.
Now to introduce the new guy on the block. Our industry is not like computers where everything is outdated within 18 months. When I say new guy, this guy has been in the province for 20 years but really only seen rising interest in the last 5 to 8 years. Meyers Spruce. This spruce comes to us from Northern China. Again, it is the source that is important as I have heard some nurseries are struggling with its hardiness. We have connections to a great source of seeds being collected right here in Manitoba from hardy Meyers Spruce trees. We find them equal in hardiness to the Black Hills Spruce. They are not as fungal susceptible as Colorado’s but they have a similar length of needle. This makes the tree denser in appearance. Many of the trees have a silver tone but not the steel blue you will find on Colorado selections. The upper branches of Meyer Spruce are more upright, not as horizontal as Colorado would be. But the density of the tree is the same as is the needle length as I had mentioned earlier. I would recommend this tree for shelterbelts. It is not as fast growing as Black Hills during its early years. But it will be denser in its maturity.
As with most Spruce, do not plant them in low wet soil. Sloped ground or a slightly raised area is a good long-term location. All evergreens benefit from some wind and sunlight protection when they are very young. I usually recommend them on the inside of a young shelterbelt. It is also advisable to set up a snow fence on the south or west side if natural shelter is not available. Spruce are good trees for the long-term thinker. It will take them 10 years to look like something significant, but once they do they will do a fantastic job of bringing winter colour as well as good shelter for wind. And hey its Christmas: so if you’re already planning to put up some lights, might as well string up your spruces as well.
Enjoy the holidays and your trees!