Picea abies. Getty Images

Picea abies

Christmas tree

  • Botanical name: Picea abies
  • Common name: Christmas tree
  • Family: Pinaceae
  • Plant Type: Tree, Evergreen
Foliage colour:


More commonly seen and known as the Christmas tree, Picea abies (Norway spruce) makes a beautiful specimen tree for large gardens and parks. It has a conical shape, attractive red-brown bark and short, deep green needles that have a strong pine scent. In summer and autumn, red-brown cones appear. 


Picea abies can ultimately reach at least 30m and 8m wide tall, putting on around 1m of growth a year, so is best grown in a large garden. More compact cultivars are available, however, suitable for smaller spaces.  

For best results grow Picea abies in moist but well-drained, slightly acidic soil, in full sun. As it reaches quite a large size, it is best grown in a large garden.

Norway spruce has shallow roots, so when planting, dig a hole twice the width of the root ball or container. Plant at the same depth as it was in the container. Water in well and add a mulch of bark or well rotted manure to help conserve moisture. Keep your tree well watered for the first year after planting. Once established, it should get all the moisture it needs from rainfall.

There’s no need to prune a Norway spruce regularly – this may spoil the shape. However you can remove dead, damaged, crossing or diseased branches if they appear.

Where to buy a Norway spruce online

This page contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more.

Varieties of Norway spruce to grow

Picea abies ‘Little Gem’. Getty Images

Picea abies ‘Little Gem’ – a dwarf cultivar that is suitable for growing in a border or rockery or in a pot. H x S: 50cm x 75cm

Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’

Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’ – Known as the bird’s nest spruce, this small, spreading conifer is more suitable for a small garden and looks good in a rock garden. Height x Spread: 1.5 x 4m


How to grow Picea abies

  • Plant size

    25m height

    6m spread

  • Sun exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Soil type: Acidic / clay / heavy / moist / well drained / light / sandy

Plant calendar

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Picea abies and wildlife

Picea abies has no particular known value to wildlife in the UK.

Is Picea abies poisonous?

Picea abies has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:

No reported toxicity to Birds

No reported toxicity to Cats

No reported toxicity to Dogs

No reported toxicity to Horses

No reported toxicity to Livestock

No reported toxicity to People