The Q&A Archives: Norway Spruce Seedlings

Question: I am interested in planting norway spruce on one of my properties and I'm interested to know if they will reproduce on their own? I live right on the NY, NJ, PA border. I have one in my backyard and I've never seen saplings near my tree. However, my friend, who lives about one mile away has saplings around his norway spruce. One major difference that I've noticed is that he is at an elevation of 1000+ ft. higher. I've read that norway spruce have naturalized in areas of the northeast. Do I need to do anything special to have my trees reproduce on their own?

Answer: Evergreens do not "spread" like other trees can. Some trees, like sumac, have roots that will sprout and create new plants at some distance from the original plant and can, eventually, create a thicket. Other plants, such as lilacs and crabapples, send up suckers around the base of the tree and can become quite bushy. Evergreens (pines, spruces, etc.), don't spread this way.

However, evergreens do reproduce by the seeds contained in the cones. Is your tree producing "pinecones"? If not, then you don't have any seeds to sprout. (The sprouts you see at your friend's house are likely sprouting from seeds released by the cones.) If you do have cones, but no seedlings, then the area around the tree isn't for some reason encouraging the sprouting and growth of seedlings. Perhaps it's too dry, or too shaded. You might try sowing some seeds from your cones, or your friend's tree's cones, into a special nursery bed and see if, with a little TLC, you can encourage them to grow.

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