With its perfect, pyramidal shape, the Norway spruce tree makes a fine live Christmas tree for the yard. It is rather stiffly formal in its youth, but older branches produce pendulous branchlets, giving it more charm as it ages. Its needles are dark green year-round. The cones, borne sporadically, are particularly large for a spruce. It can reach more than 100 feet in height, even under cultivation.
How to grow: Grow in full sun in just about any soil, though moist, sandy, well-drained soil is preferred. The Norway spruce does best in cool climates. Give this tree plenty of space, because it will lose its lower branches-and much of its charm-if crowded or shaded at its base.
Uses: This tree makes a striking specimen plant or an excellent windbreak.
Related species: The Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens glauca) is renowned for its blue needles.
Scientific name: Picea abies