Black Spruce: A Versatile Landscape Tree

Black Hills Spruce

The Black Hills of South Dakota are home to a unique variety of white spruce, Picea Glauca Densata.

This cultivar is not widely used in the nursery industry, but it is one of the most popular trees for landscaping.

With more color and a slower growth rate than the common white spruce, this Black Hills spruce is more appealing in ornamental horticulture.

If you want to include a white spruce in your landscaping, choose the Picea Glauca Densata variety.

Common Name  Black Hills Spruce
Botanical Name  Picea glauca ‘densata’
Family Name  Pinaceae
 Plant Type Coniferous Evergreen
 Mature Size  20-25 Feet Tall 10-15 Feet Tall
 Sun Exposure Full Sun
 Soil Type Moist, well-drained
 Soil pH Acidic
 Bloom Time Non-flowering
 Flower Color Non-flowering
 Hardiness Zones USDA 3 to 6
 Native Area Black Hills of South Dakota

Tips for Keeping Your Plants Healthy

  • One of the best ways to ensure that your plants stay healthy is to keep them properly watered. This means watering them deeply and regularly, especially during hot weather.
  • Mulching around your plants can also help to retain moisture and protect their roots from extreme temperatures.
  • It’s also important to fertilize your plants regularly. A good rule of thumb is to fertilize when they are actively growing, which is typically in spring and summer.
  • Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package, as too much fertilizer can actually damage your plants.
  • Finally, make sure you prune your plants regularly. Pruning helps encourage new growth and helps keep your plants looking tidy.

Lighting and Temperature

The Picea Glauca Densata prefers full sun to partial shade, and does best in cool temperatures. It is heat tolerant, but does not do well in hot, humid climates.

If you live in an area with hot summers, choose a location for your Black Hills spruce that gets afternoon shade.


Black spruce will grow on a variety of sites including those that are poorly drained. It is, however, very intolerant of drought once established. This species should be planted in full sun to partial shade.


Fertilizer requirements are low for this spruce. It is a good idea to test the soil before planting and add fertilizer if needed.

The Black Hills spruce prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It is drought tolerant once established, but looks best with regular watering during periods of drought.

This spruce can be pruned to shape as needed.


Pruning is the best way to control the shape of black spruce. It is generally done in late spring after new growth has started.

You can shear or thin out black spruce, but it is important to not remove more than 30 percent of the live tissue in any one year.


When watering your Black Hills Spruce, be sure to give it a deep soaking. This means applying enough water so that it penetrates the entire root system.

A good rule of thumb is to apply about an inch of water per week. If you live in an area with high temperatures and low humidity, you may need to increase this amount.


Size and shape are important considerations when selecting a landscape tree. The Black Hills spruce has a growth habit that is more narrowly pyramidal than the common white spruce.

As a result, it takes up less space and can be used in smaller landscapes. In addition, the Black Hills spruce has a slower growth rate than the common white spruce.


Flowering trees are one of the most important ornamental features in the landscape. They provide color, contrast, and texture that can make any yard or garden more beautiful.

The Black Hills spruce is no exception. This tree produces small, white flowers that appear in early spring and last for several weeks.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

According to studies, the three most common pests in homes are aphids, mites, and bagworms.

These pests can cause a great deal of damage to your home, and it is important to take steps to prevent them from infesting your property.

Aphids are small insects that feed on plant sap, and they can quickly decimate a crop if left unchecked.

Mites are tiny spider-like creatures that live on the undersides of leaves, and they can cause plants to yellow and drop their leaves.

Bagworms are caterpillars that spin silken bags around themselves, and they can strip a tree of its leaves in a matter of days.

If you suspect that your home is infested with any of these pests, it is important to contact a pest control professional immediately.

Types of Black Hills Spruce

Although there are only three species of Picea thea glauca, there are numerous cultivars. Black Hills spruce was previously known as var. densata.

It is now classified as a cultivar or cultivar because it is biologically identical to wild populations of white spruce and is a distinct type of. As a result, only one type of Black Hills spruce is commercially available.

However, this cultivar has several different sub-types or clones, which vary in their growth habit, needle color, and shape. The most common clones are ‘Densa’, ‘Nana’, and ‘Pygmaea’.

Black Hills spruce is native to the United States and Canada, and it is often used as an ornamental tree in gardens and parks.

It is also a popular Christmas tree species due to its good needle retention and dense growth habit.

How much water does a Black Hills spruce need?

A Black Hills spruce is a special type of evergreen tree that is often used in landscaping. These trees are unique because they are resistant to many of the diseases and pests that affect other evergreens.

However, they still need to be properly cared for in order to thrive. When watering a Black Hills spruce, it is important to follow a daily schedule for the first few weeks.

After that, the frequency can be decreased to once per week. It is also important to water these trees when the soil becomes dry, as this will help to prevent root and trunk rot.

Spider mites can also be a problem for Black Hills spruce, so it is important to monitor for these pests and take steps to control them if necessary.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your Black Hills spruce remains healthy and vibrant for years to come.

Are Black Hills spruce Hardy?

Black Hills spruce trees (Picea glauca var. densata) are native to North America and are found predominantly in the Black Hills region of South Dakota and Wyoming.

These hardy evergreens are popular for their use as ornamental trees and windbreaks, as they are slow growing and have a strong root system that helps to anchor the tree in place.

Black Hills spruce typically grow to be between 20 and 30 feet tall, with a conical shape and dense, dark green needles.

The trees prefer full sun to partial shade and well-drained, slightly acidic soils. While they are tolerant of drought conditions, they will not thrive in areas that are subject to prolonged periods of moist or wet conditions.

Black Hills spruce trees are relatively low maintenance, but they do require regular watering during the first few years after planting to help establish a deep and extensive root system.

Once established, these tough evergreens can withstand a wide range of environmental conditions, making them an excellent choice for landscaping in many different types of settings.

Why is my Black Hills spruce turning brown?

There are several reasons why your Black Hills spruce may be turning brown. One possibility is that the tree is infected with Rhizosphere needle cast, a common fungal disease that affects Colorado blue spruce and occasionally Black Hills spruce.

The disease causes needles to change color from purple to brown and fall off, working from the inside of the tree outward.

If you notice browning needles at the base of the tree that then spread upward, it is likely that Rhizosphaera needle cast is to blame. Another potential cause of browning needles is drought stress.

If your tree is not getting enough water, the needles will begin to turn brown as a way of conserving moisture. Finally, if your tree is in an area with high winds, the constant movement can cause the needles to turn brown from windburn.

If you are not sure what is causing the browning of your Black Hills spruce, it is best to consult with a certified arborist or other tree care expert.

How often do you water Black Hills spruce?

Black Hills spruce trees are beautiful and thrive in many conditions, but they need proper care to grow and stay healthy. To ensure your tree is getting the water it needs, follow a daily watering schedule in the beginning stages.

After a few weeks, you can decrease the frequency to once per week or even just sprinkle them with water when the soil is dry.

These trees are generally immune to diseases and pests, but they can be susceptible to the attack of spider mites and stem and needle rust canker.

If you notice any of these problems, treat them immediately to prevent further damage. With proper care, your Black Hills spruce will continue to thrive for years to come.

Why is my spruce dying?

Needlecast diseases cause spruce needles to turn yellow or brown and drop off the tree. If you suspect your spruce has a needlecast disease, look for stunted new growth and bare patches on the branches.

These symptoms are most prevalent in late summer or early fall. Canker diseases affect spruce trees of all ages and result in visible cankers on the branches or trunk.

The cankers are sunken, dead areas that are often surrounded by yellowing or dying foliage. If your spruce has canker disease, you may also notice Wilson’s disease Sphaeropsis tumefaciens), which causes small, dark-colored cones to form on the tips of the branches.

Tip blight is another common disease that affects blue spruce trees. It is characterized by dark-colored lesions on the tips of new growth.

If left untreated, tip blight can spread down the length of the branch, causing dieback.

If you suspect your spruce has any of these diseases, it is important to contact a certified arborist or tree care professional for diagnosis and treatment.

Is Black Hills spruce a good tree?

Black Hills spruce is a good choice for many different purposes. It is a popular Christmas tree due to its dense, symmetrical shape and deep green color.

It is also sought after by landscapers and homeowners for use as windbreaks and privacy screens. In addition, Black Hills spruce provides numerous benefits for wildlife.

The dense evergreen needles create an ideal nesting site for birds, and the thick branches offer shelter and protection from the elements for small animals.

In winter, the tree’s dense foliage helps to insulate animals’ nests and dens, providing a warm refuge from the cold. For all these reasons, Black Hills spruce is considered a valuable asset to any landscape.

What is the hardiest spruce tree?

The Norway spruce is a large evergreen tree that is native to Europe. It can grow up to 98 feet tall and has a lifespan of up to 600 years.

The Norway spruce is notable for its hardiness, as it can tolerate cold temperatures and harsh winters. It is also resistant to drought and wind damage.

The Norway spruce has dark green needles that are about 1 inch long. The cones are 3-6 inches long and turn brown when they mature.

The Norway spruce is a popular Christmas tree in Europe and North America. It is also used as a ornamental tree in parks and gardens.

Is Black Hills spruce the same as black spruce?

There are several types of spruce trees, and Black Hills spruce is just one variety. Black Hills spruce (Picea glauca var. densata) is a type of white spruce that’s native to the Black Hills region of South Dakota.

It’s a slow-growing tree that can reach up to 50 feet in height and 20-30 feet in width. Black Hills spruce has dense, dark-green needles and prefers well-drained, sandy soils.

It’s often used as an ornamental tree or for windbreaks and screens. While Black Hills spruce is similar to black spruce (Picea mariana), they’re not the same tree.

Black spruce is more adaptable to moist soils than other species of spruces and can grow up to 60 feet tall. It has light-green needles and produces small, brown cones.

Black spruce is also native to North America, but its range extends from Alaska all the way to Newfoundland. So while Black Hills spruce and black spruce may look similar, they’re two distinct species of trees.

Jessica Miles

Jessica Miles is a writer for Botanique Boutique, a plant and gardening blog. She has always loved plants, flowers, and anything green. When she was younger, she used to watch her grandfather garden and would be in awe of the beautiful flowers he would grow. Now Jessica writes about all things related to plants and gardening - from beginner tips on how to start growing your own plants, to in-depth guides on caring for a specific type of flower or plant. She loves helping others learn about this fascinating hobby, and hopes that her writing will inspire people to get outside and enjoy nature!

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