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Picea omorika, Serbian Spruce or Bosnian Spruce The Picea Omorika, also called the Serbian Spruce or the Bosnian Spruce, is a graceful evergreen conifer that can grow to a height up to 40 metres. That said, it grows at a relatively slow rate of just 30 to 60 centimeters per year. The hardy Bosnian Spruce is native to the Tara Mountains which are located in West Serbia. In its native habitat, it grows mostly on the mountain's north facing slopes signifying its hardiness. Picea Omorika was first discovered in 1875 and quickly gained popularity in horticulture use. From the 1880s onward, the Serbian Spruce has been a valued landscape addition. In terms of growth habit, it has an attractive crown which is narrowly conical to columnar with short branches with a downward curve.
The Serbian Spruce is an evergreen conifer and keeps its needles all year round. It grows naturally in a narrow, pyramid fashion and rarely, if ever, requires any pruning. The needles measure 2.5 centimeters in length. Each needle is flat and bright green. The underside of the needle has two distinctive white stripes. The needles are connected to the main stem by a tiny pulvinus. The Bosnian Spruce produces male and female flowers on the same tree. The flowers are inconspicuous. After flowering, it develops long ovate-shaped cones that measure approximately 5 centimeters. The decorative cones appear a purple and change to a reddish-brown as they mature.
Plant the Picea omorika in full sun for best growth. It will tolerate partial shade but must have at least four hours of sun per day. The tree grows well in, loamy, sandy, or clay soils. Ideally, it prefers acidic soil conditions. Avoid planting the tree in overly moist or boggy soil. It grows best when the soil is allowed to dry out between waterings. Despite its mountain origins, the Serbian Spruce tolerates urban pollution. However, it does not do well when exposed to road salt.
Picea omarika is a popular living Christmas tree choice. Many people keep the tree in a pot and after the holidays, they plant it directly in the garden where it makes an ideal specimen tree. It was awarded the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. Many successful cultivars such as the Picea omorika Nana have been produced from the Picea omorika.