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 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 fully Hardy and has denser branching and a darker green winter colour. Both of these trees have good attributes obviously the Blue Spruce has its own attraction. Blue spruce have been known to Winterburn 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 Our industry is not like computers that everything is outdated within 18 months. When I say new guy this guy’s been in the province for 20 years but really only seen Rising interest in the last five to eight years. Meyers Spruce comes to us from northern China. Again it the source is important as I have heard some Nurseries are struggling with its hardiness. We have connections to a great source I’ve seed 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 than and not as horizontal as Colorado would be. But the density of the tree is the same as is the needle length as was mentioned. 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 do a fantastic job of bringing winter colour as well as good shelter for wind. And hey its Christmas 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.