Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Norway Spruce
Picea abies 'Little Gem'

Family: Pinaceae (py-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Picea (PY-see-uh) (Info)
Species: abies (A-bees) (Info)
Cultivar: Little Gem

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One member has or wants this plant for trade.

Alpines and Rock Gardens

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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4 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive piedmthq On Nov 22, 2007, piedmthq from Dunellen, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

List of known varieties.. Picea abies: Norway spruce - With its red brown bark, conical shape, and shiny green needles, Norway spruce is traditionally used as a Christmas tree. Its needles are 3/4 inch long, and it grows to 90 feet in nature. It survives at high altitudes, up to 6600 ft, and is hardy in zones 2B through 7A.

Picea abies albertiana 'conica'.
Picea abies 'Echiniformis': dwarf spruce - a slow-growing form with tightly congested foliage.
Picea abies 'Little Gem': dwarf spruce - an excellent variety for use in Saikei due to its tiny needles and small, compact growth.
Picea abies 'Maxwellii': Norway spruce, dwarf spruce - This is a natural dwarf which is hardy to zone 3. It has coarse, spiny needles.
Picea abies 'Mucronata': dwarf spruce.
Picea abies 'Nidiformis': bird's nest spruce - This dwarf has bright, fresh green buds and grows to 3 ft.
Picea abies 'Pumila' - This variety has small, dense foliage which makes it desirable for bonsai culture. It grows very slowly - as little as 1 foot in a 25 year period.
Picea abies 'Pumila Nigra' - small, deep green foliage, with light green buds in spring. Takes well to pot culture in hot, humid areas. Very similar to the hard-to-find P. glehnii.
Picea abies 'Pygmaea': pygmy Norway spruce.
Picea abies 'Verigata': white spruce.
Picea engelmannii: Blue Englemann spruce, dwarf Alberta spruce - A native of western North America, it is hardy to zone 3. It has soft needles which smell of camphor when crushed, and orange-brown cones.
Picea glauca: white spruce - This tree has prickly blue-green needles which grow to 3/4 inch, and 2 inch green cones which ripen to brown. Hardy in zones 2-5, it is loved for its strong, refreshing aroma. It does not tolerate hot summers well.
Picea glauca 'Albertina conica': Alberta spruce - Conical, with bright green foliage, this is a slow-growing dwarf.
Picea glauca conica: white spruce - Hardy in zones 4-6, although survival in zone 2 has been reported, this common bonsai choice withstands heat and drought better than other spruce. It is very susceptible to spider mites.
Picea glauca densata: Black Hills spruce - This slow-growing spruce can survive drier conditions than most of the genera.
Picea glehnii: Sakhalin spruce, common Ezo spruce, Edo spruce, silver fir - very popular in Japan, but may be difficult to get due to expost regulations. It has a slender conical habit, with red-brown flaking bark and bluish-green needles.
Picea glehnii 'Yatsubusa': dwarf Saghalin spruce - popular in Japan for Saikei, this spruce is very similar to P. Abies 'Little Gem.'
Picea jezoensis: Yezo spruce, jezo spruce, Hondo spruce, Yeddo spruce - Hardy to zone 5, this variety, popular in Japan, prefers semi-shade. It is recognizable by its dark green needles with white undersides, and its light brown young shoots. It is reputed to grow poorly, however, in the eastern US.
Picea jezoensis hondoensis: Hondo spruce - This variety has shorter needles than the species.
Picea mariana (also called Picea nigra): black spruce.
Picea mariana 'Nana': dwarf black spruce - This dwarf has gray-green needles and cones less than 2 inches long. It is native from Pennsylvania north through Canada. Its needles are a scant 1/2 inch.
Picea omorika: Serbian spruce - The Serbian spruce, found growing between Ontario and Wisconsin in the US, is recognizable by its narrow habit and distinctive spire. There are dwarf and weeping forms, and it is hardy in zones 4-7.
Picea orientalis: Oriental spruce, Caucasian spruce - An interesting bonsai subject due to its short needles (1/4-1/3 inch) and purple cones, the Caucasian spruce is hardy to zone 5 and can grow to 50 ft. in the wild. Found between Ohio and Ontario, it has pale gray bark and deep green needles. Hardy in zones 5-7, this is one of the best spruces for hot, humid areas.
Picea oungens: Montgomery spruce - This spruce has blue needles. Its compact growth makes it an appropriate bonsai choice.
Picea polita: spruce.
Picea pungens: Colorado spruce, Colorado blue spruce, blue spruce - a blue-gray to blue-green tree, it can grow to 150 feet and survives at altitudes up to 11,000 ft.! It is the most widely grown spruce in North America.
Picea pungens 'River Road': blue spruce - zone 3.
Picea rubens: red spruce - Red spruce can grow up to 100 ft., and is comfortable at altitudes up to 6000 ft. It has rich purple-brown bark which turns red-brown on older trees, or gray at high altitudes. Its bright green needles smell of apples or candlewax. It often hybridizes with P. mariana, producing a more spreading tree with darker needles.
Picea sitchensis: Sitka spruce - The larges, fastest growing spruce in the world, the Sitka spruce can grow up to 300 feet! It has gently arched branches and prickly needles, and grows in a broad range from Alaska south to Washington state.
Picea torana: tiger-tail spruce - zone 6.

Positive JerusalemCherry On Sep 8, 2007, JerusalemCherry from Dunellen, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

Makes a great bonsai and is very hardy for a small ever green. It is known to grow as far north as zone 2b / 3 and has tiny needles plus a very dense growing habit. I have read it was found approx between 1958-1965 by Grootendorst Nursery, in Boskoop, Holland. This Little Gem orginated as Witch's Broom off the already minature version of the Norway Spruce "Nidiformis".

As far as repotting goes, repot every second year in early to mid-spring, before new growth expands, or in early fall. Older specimens that are 10 plus years may be repotted every 5 years. Be sure to use a fast-draining soil mix (add sand and/or some turface/lava rock to potting soil), and prune roots by one third or less. Spruce in general need to keep a good sized root ball, and may need to be planted in a deep pot to achieve this. Protect from full sun for a few weeks after repotting. If you like bonsai, sells small plants suitable for this purpose

Positive conifers On Mar 8, 2006, conifers from Rock Island, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

Propagation for most all Picea abies is done via grafting. Some Picea abies will strike from cuttings however, I don't know if this is one of them. Grafting would be the safest bet. All Picea glauca var. albetiana 'Conica' cultivars root readily from hardwood cuttings.

Positive Todd_Boland On Sep 15, 2004, Todd_Boland from St. John's, NL (Zone 5b) wrote:

One of the smallest cultivars of Norway Spruce, 'Little Gem' is indeed a gem for any rockery. My plant is 10 years old and still under 12 inches in height. Only grows about an inch per year.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Juneau, Alaska
Grand Junction, Colorado
Vail, Colorado
Chicago, Illinois
Rock Island, Illinois
Dunellen, New Jersey
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Aurora, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Lexington, Virginia
Bainbridge Island, Washington

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