Virtues: White spruce, named Evergreen of the Year by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum’s GreatPlants for the Great Plains program, is a valuable tree in winter. It is useful as a windbreak, hedge, screen or even as a cut or living Christmas tree. It offers winter shelter and foods for wildlife, including a wide variety of woodpeckers, pheasant and other birds.
Common name: White spruce
Botanical name: Picea glauca
Exposure: Full sun
Foliage: White spruce gains its common name from the whitish waxy coating that develops on its needles as they age. Young needles are blue-green.
Habit: Upright and narrow, growing 40 to 60 feet tall and 10 to 20 feet wide. It has strong horizontal branches that open up with age.
Origins: Grows from Alaska across Canada and south into the northernmost United States.
How to grow white spruce: This bone-hardy evergreen prefers cold winters and cool summers. Provide full sun and moist, well-drained-soul. White spruce does not tolerate humidity, and it should be sited where it will receive good air circulation. USDA Zones 2–6.
Image courtesy of the Nebraska Landscape Arboretum