Dwarf birds nest spruce

Birds Nest Spruce

Birds Nest Spruce

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Birds Nest Spruce foliage

Birds Nest Spruce foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 4 feet

Spread: 5 feet


Hardiness Zone: 3a

Other Names: Norwegian Spruce


A small dense spreading shrub which develops a characteristic depression in the center (hence the name), very unlike the species; forms a neat compact evergreen ball, adaptable and hardy; excellent choice for form and texture in the garden

Ornamental Features

Birds Nest Spruce has green foliage which emerges lime green in spring. The needles remain green throughout the winter. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Birds Nest Spruce is a dense multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with a more or less rounded form. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other landscape plants with less refined foliage.

This is a relatively low maintenance shrub. When pruning is necessary, it is recommended to only trim back the new growth of the current season, other than to remove any dieback. Deer don’t particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Birds Nest Spruce is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use

Planting & Growing

Birds Nest Spruce will grow to be about 4 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 5 feet. It tends to fill out right to the ground and therefore doesn’t necessarily require facer plants in front. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 50 years or more.

This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America.

Birds Nest Spruce Shrubs for Sale Online

Birds Nest Spruce Shrubs grow best if they are fertilized once in the spring and again in early summer. Birds Nest Spruce favors nutrient rich soil and ample fertilization. Birds Nest Spruce Shrubs benefit from an fertilizer which can help raise the acid level of the soil such as Holly-Tone by Espoma. When selecting a fertilizer for your Birds Nest Spruce, if soil Ph is not an issue a simple balanced fertilizer can be used such as Tree-tone. Either chemical fertilizers or organic matter can be used successfully. Since an organic method of applying manure and/or compost around the roots, produces excellent results and also improves the condition of the soil, this would be an excellent first line of attack. Organic additions to the soil can also be combined with a shot of chemical fertilizer for maximum effect. If you choose to use chemical fertilizers on your Birds Nest Spruce, applying a slow-release, balanced fertilizer once a year in the spring is probably the simplest solution. There are many slow-release fertilizers on the market. If you can find a fertilizer formulated for shrubs and trees, this fertilizer would work well on Birds Nest Spruce. However, slow-release is certainly not the only way to fertilize shrubs such as Birds Nest Spruce although truth be told I feel its the best. A less expensive fast release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 will work just as well if applied twice during the summer. If you are looking for a fertilizing routine tailored to your specific conditions, a soil sample should be taken and the fertilizer and trace elements matched to the needs of your soil. Don’t fertilize Birds Nest Spruce Shrubs after August in the North. Fall is the time for arborvitaes to begin preparing for dormancy. Fertilizing at this time may stimulate new growth that will be too tender to withstand the winter. In the South, a late summer into September application would be about right. As mentioned one spring application of a balanced fertilizer should more than suffice. The amount of chemical fertilizer used per plant will vary with the size of the plant and it’s root system. Over-fertilization can be much more detrimental than under-fertilization. “Fertilizer burn” can occur when too much fertilizer is applied, resulting in a drying out of the roots and damage or even death of the shrub. It is much, much better to err on the side of too little fertilizer than too much.
Understanding Fertilizer Labels:
When looking at most fertilizers, they are described by three numbers on the bag. An example would be 10-10-10 or 12-4-8. The first of these three numbers refers to Nitrogen, which is the primary element necessary for good, balanced growth within the arborvitae. Plants that are deficient in Nitrogen are usually not growing vigorously, and sometimes exhibit pale colored foliage. Not all Nitrogen deficiencies result in stunted growth. Sometimes, the growth is taller and longer with less than desirable branching when Nitrogen is deficient. The second number in the fertilizer equation is representative of Phosphorus. A deficiency of Phosphorus may affect the energy transfer in the plant, and result in stunted growth as well. Also, plants with insufficient amounts of Phosphorus may have poorer root systems. Potassium is the element represented by the third number on the fertilizer bag. Plants that are deficient in Potassium, are usually growing more slowly than normal, have fewer flowers and seed, and are more susceptible to disease than plants with adequate levels of Potassium. Although the three elements just mentioned are the major elements necessary for good plant performance, there some minor elements that are just as important in consideration of shrub nutrition. Minor elements that are not included in the three numbers listing on the front of fertilizer bags are very important considerations when choosing your fertilizer. Elements such as Magnesium, Sulfur, Calcium, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Boron, and Molybdenum play very important roles in providing plants with adequate nutrition. Many times, less expensive fertilizers are sold that contain only the major elements needed, but not the minor elements. Always be sure to look on the fertilizer label on the back of the bag to see exactly what is included in the fertilizer. In choosing the basic type of fertilizer for your Birds Nest Spruce, it is important to determine what you need your plant to do. If your plants are well established, and you are not concerned about more growth, choose a fertilizer that has a smaller first number, and a larger second and third number. When you have selected your fertilizer and are ready to apply it, be sure to rake your mulch back to the drip line of each plant. Apply the fertilizer according to the label directions immediately on top of the soil, and be sure to water the plant thoroughly after the application. You can then rake the mulch back around the base of the Birds Nest Spruce. Although it is tempting to spend less time by not raking the mulch back during fertilization, the results will be less than desirable, if the fertilizer is applied on top of the mulch. Proper fertilization of your Birds Nest Spruce will lead to healthier and more disease resistant plants, as well as provide you with many more enjoyable blooms. Always, read the label on your fertilizer bag, and follow the instructions.

Birds Nest Spruce

Birds Nest Spruce is a dwarf evergreen shrub. This evergreen prefers full sun exposure for the best results. Leaving adequate growing room around this shrub is essential. If other plants encroach on the growing area of this evergreen, they may cause the plant to die back. Most die back will not recover, and the plant will need to be replaced.

The needles of this spruce are less than an inch long. They are soft to the touch. Needles on Birds Nest are similar to that of Black Hills Spruce. New needle growth comes in as light green and darkens as the plant matures. This bush is compact and only gets about three feet wide and tall when it is fully mature.

Birds Nest is a very hardy plant that winters well. This plant is also wind resistant and can tolerate most weather conditions. If drought and extreme temperatures persist, occasional watering may be necessary. Pruning is not required as this evergreen maintains its form well. Pruning should be limited to removing any dead or damaged material. This plant does not tolerate salt well, so make sure that you install it where it will not be exposed to potential damage. If you are looking for a hardy evergreen specimen for your project, consider planting Birds Nest Spruce.

Picea Abies ‘Nidiformis’

Flower Color- None

Foliage Color- Green

Zone- 3-7

Height- 3′

Spread- 3′

Light- Sun

Details- Birds Nest Spruce is a relatively small, compact evergreen plant. This is a low maintenance evergreen shrub.

Pruning- This plant requires minimal if any pruning. Birds Nest Spruce look their best when left natural.

Other Spruce plant options.

  • Blue Spruce Stonecrop
  • Dwarf Black Spruce
  • Dwarf Norway Spruce
  • Globosa Blue Spruce
  • Little Gem Norway Spruce
  • Mrs. Cesarini Blue Spruce
  • Pimoko Siberian Spruce

Blue Nest Spruce

Planting & Care for Blue Nest Spruce


  • It makes an excellent plant for specimen in the landscape, border, container or rock garden.
  • This conifer requires little maintenance, is very hardy and wind resistant.
  • Slow grower, reaching only 3-5’ tall x 4-6’ wide
  • Highly adaptable to most soil types. Prefers slightly acidic, well-drained soils; avoid wet, shady sites.
  • Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system.
  • Tolerates drought, when established.
  • Feed with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring.

Opening Plant Material

  • Containers – Completely saturate all container plants by putting in a larger container of water until stops bubbling, remove. Now ready to plant. Dig a hole no deeper than the depth of the container and 6″ or more, making sure it’s wider on the sides.

Planting containers

  • Slide plant from pot by tapping on the bottom of the pot.
  • With shovel or knife trim bottom 2″ off of the root ball for plants in plastic containers.
  • Rotate the plant to the proper position. Never lift or move plants by the tops.
  • Place the root ball in the hole.
  • Notice where the base of the trunk flairs out from the tree. This is called the root flair. This root flair should show when the tree is planted. If necessary, add soil under the ball so the root flair is exposed.
  • Place fertilizer packets into the bottom of the hole (if purchased). *Use Our Recommended Fertilizer.
  • Backfill the hole with soil, making sure the top of the root ball is visible and slightly higher than the soil around it.
  • Firm the soil around the plant. Water well to settle soil around the root ball.

Pruning – After Planting

  • Containers – Although it is not essential for containers to be pruned after planting, a light pruning for shape, to remove any broken branches from shipping, or to thin out a heavily branched plant will help in the transplanting process and in the appearance of your new planting.

Pruning – Through-out the Season

  • Can cut back due to its vigorous growth, but not necessary.

Watering – After Planting

  • Plants typically take approximately 6 weeks to establish new roots in your soil. During this period, water plants as often as every 2-4 days at the start and at least a minimum of once per week.
  • Beyond the 6 week establishment period, water once per week, unless rains occur.
  • Stick your finger into the soil around 3” to check soil moisture.

Watering – Through-out the Season

  • After the first season, plants should only be watered during extended periods without rain.
  • How do you know if your plants need water? The easiest way to tell is to touch the soil around the roots. If it is moist, there is no need to water. If it is dry, give it a good soaking with the hose end (no nozzle) watering the soil only, not the leaves.
  • Stick your finger into the soil around 3” to check soil moisture.

Go to our “Plant Features & Video Tab” for more information & tips on caring and maintaining this plant.

Bird’s Nest Spruce Care: How To Grow Bird’s Nest Spruce Shrubs

Dwarf Norway spruce is one of the best small evergreen shrubs for the landscape. It produces a perfect small mounding form that compliments any bed, foundation planting, container or pathway edge. The plant is also known as bird’s nest spruce. What is a bird’s nest spruce? This is a marvelous foliage plant well suited for USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 7. Learn how to grow bird’s nest spruce for a spectacular year-round display of greenery.

What is a Bird’s Nest Spruce?

The small depression in the center of the shrub is the genesis of the name, bird’s nest spruce. It is a Norwegian shrub that gets only 2 feet tall and about 4 feet wide. The evergreen needles are short and grayish green except when young. The new growth is a brilliant greenish yellow and suspended in clusters at the tips of the stems, adding interest to the plant.

Bird’s nest spruce’s form is flat on top with a concave center and densely needled stems. Dwarf Norway spruce branches are produced in horizontal layers, which grow thickly on the shrub. This little guy is slow growing and may take 10 years or more to reach mature size.

How to Grow Bird’s Nest Spruce

The little shrub prefers a sunny location but it can tolerate partial shade. Soil must be well draining and acidic to moderately alkaline. It will thrive in rocky soil, clay or even sand.

Bird’s nest spruce has the best growth when it is kept moist, but once the mature plant is established it can handle periods of drought. Bird’s nest spruce care is average with very little maintenance. The spruce is not bothered by rabbits or deer and has few pest or disease problems.

Bird’s Nest Spruce Care

Remove any diseased, broken or damaged limbs any time of the year. If you wish to keep the plant in a diminutive habit, trimming bird’s nest spruce is best done in late winter to early spring in the second year. The shrub is extremely slow growing, however, and trimming bird’s nest spruce is not generally required.

Container plants need to be re-potted every two to three years in a good potting soil.

Feed in spring with an all-purpose fertilizer applied just as new green growth appears.

Water the plant weekly in summer for both in-ground and potted plants.

Try planting this shrub in a rockery, along a path or in a container with annual plants. The shrub is fragrant when needles are crushed and also useful on sloping ground and exposed windy hill.

Alberta Spruce Dwarf

Picea glauca Dwarf Alberta Spruce. Dwarf Alberta spruce is a small, dense evergreen widely used as a container plant or in rock gardens. Dwarf Alberta spruce may also be planted as an accent specimen or novelty tree in your landscape. It may eventually reach 6′, however it is very slow growing and will take years.

Colorado Blue Spruce

Picea pungens Colorado Blue Spruce 30′ – 60′. A handsome tree with densely covered, rigid, tiered branches with stiff gray-blue needles. Colorado Blue Spruce grows in a classic pyramid shape and is a best choice for privacy planting, a large screen or as a backdrop. The silver blue tint to the needles can really set off a border garden or stand out in a landscape.

Colorado Blue Spruce ‘Bacheri’

Picea pungens ‘Bacheri’ Colorado Blue Spruce 30′ – 40′. A Colorado Blue Spruce cultivar with slender habit which makes it a good choice for smaller yards. ‘Bacheri’ Colorado Blue Spruce has dense needles which hold the blue color well. Branching is at an upward angle.

Blue Spruce ‘Baby Blue Eyes’

Picea pungens Blue Spruce ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ 15′ – 30′. A semi-dwarf spruce tree which is useful when planted in smaller landscapes or confined spaces such as between houses or beside a driveway. The lovely blue color of ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ blue spruce may be used as a background in a border garden and the dwarf size makes it work well in a small space landscape. ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ is great companion plant to taller, dark green spruce trees.

Blue Spruce ‘The Blues’ Weeping

Blue Spruce ‘The Blues’ a weeping variety with strongly sweeping branches, irregular spread and drooping crown. It has the classic silver blue needles of a blue spruce tree to bring vibrant color to a landscape design. ‘The Blues’ is a unique focal point for a front yard of backyard seating area.

Blue Spruce Dwarf Globe

Picea pungens ‘Globosa’ Globe Blue Spruce 3′- 5’evergreen shrub with bright blue needles which hold their color well throughout the year. The blue is more intense during the summer months. Globe Blue Spruce has a flat topped and densely branched form. It is a wonderful accent where you need color in a landscape design.

Columnar Norway Spruce

Picea abies ‘Cupressina’ Columnar Norway Spruce 20′ x 5′ – 6’w. Elegant columnar spruce tree variety, perfect when planted as a specimen, as a perimeter planting along a driveway or at a front door. Columnar Norway Spruce has a formal, slender, uniform growth habit with dense branching that reaches to the ground. Evergreen needles are deep green and curve slightly on closely set branches. Columnar Norway Spruce is ideal when used as a narrow space windbreak or privacy wall.

Norway Spruce Trees

Picea abies Norway Spruce Evergreen Conifer 60′ – 80′. Fastest growing of the spruces. Strong, graceful branches are covered with attractive dark green needles. Branches develop a pendulous habit as the tree matures. Norway Spruce preforms well in Georgia landscapes and is ideal as a privacy hedge, noise abatement or wind break.

Norway Spruce ‘Bird’s Nest’ Dwarf

Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’ ‘Bird’s Nest’ dwarf Norway spruce 2-3′ tall, 4-5′ wide. A low growing variety which earns its name from the birds nest shape. Due to the dwarf height, ‘Bird’s Nest’ Norway spruce is ideal for front yard landscape plan or small residential gardens. Evergreen with stiff, medium green needles. May be used as a groundcover shirb in mass plantings.

‘Pusch’ Norway Spruce Dwarf

Picea abies ‘Pusch’ Dwarf. Slow growing, reaches 18-36″ tall and wide. A This attractive, sprawling evergreen shrub which is easy to grow as a garden accent. It may be used as a groundcover in mass plantings. The dense branches of ‘Pusch’ Norway Spruce have bright green needles. Tiny cones which are red in spring, then mature to brown, add visual interest.

Weeping Norway Spruce

Picea abies ‘Pendula’. A dramatic weeping evergreen tree composed of weeping branches which trail outward, Needeles are dense and deep green. Weeping Norway Spruce works well when trained to feature its naturally pendulous shape to create a handsome garden specimen.

Weeping Serbian Spruce

Picea omorika ‘Pendula’ Weeping Serbian Spruce trees. A dramatic focal point in a landscape design Weeping Serbian Spruce is an evergreen conifer with an elegant columnar form. The branches are slightly twisted and pendulous while the needles are two tone green and silver. Weeping Serbian Spruce is ideal for a narrow space or small gardens.

Spruce tree varieties in our plant nursery garden center are subject to change. Container and B&B sizes.

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