Picea abies 'Pendula' / weeping Norway spruce

Picea abies 'Pendula' is used as a collective term that describes the myriad weeping and pendulous forms of Norway spruce that exist in the international nursery trade. Such plants have been well-known and popular throughout history and no individual clone can be identified as the origin of them all. At some point taxonomists will formally assign these trees under a "form-status," i.e. Picea abies forma pendula. However this has not yet happened. Below are notes from growers and botanical writers.

Literature describes this spruce as hardy to USDA Zone 3. Some ACS members' experiences in zone 3 is that, without protection, during establishment years, some plants will not survive in zone 3. A better upright weeping form of spruce for zone 3 is Picea glauca 'Pendula.' Picea abies 'Pendula' undoubtedly would have better survivability in zone 3 with snow cover when grown as a prostrate ground cover as pictured herein.

Iseli Nursery, Boring, Oregon, USA describes it as "The dark green weeping Norway spruce can be easily grown, staked, and trained into an upright specimen, or allowed to grow as an undulating ground cover, hanging over slopes and walls."

Gerd Krussmann notes in Manual of Cultivated Conifers, that there are so many different cultivars of 'Pendula' in nature that it raises the question of duplication.

Adrian Bloom, in Gardening With Conifers, states that the cultivar Picea abies 'Frohburg' is perhaps the most garden-worthy of the pendula forms. He groups the cultivar 'Pendula' with other similar forms: P. abies 'Frohburg,' P. abies 'Aarburg,' P. abies 'Wartburg,' P. abies 'Inversa' and P. abies 'Reflexa.'

Picea abies 'Pendula' — a young specimen in a private garden.
Photo by Lyle Littlefield
Picea abies 'Pendula' in the Gotelli Collection at the U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C., May 2006.
Photo by Dax Herbst
Picea abies f. pendula — a fresh seed cone in early spring.
Photo by Ron Elardo


Mailynn Pratt

I planted my tree last year but it is dying branches are turning brown and falling off. What do I do?

Cathy Wilson

I saw one of these trees at Cheekwood in Nashville. It was about 10 feet high and not at all spread out across the ground as the tree in the picture. I am pretty ignorant about this and my question is, is that tree going to continue growing out wider, or is that way just because it's a young tree, or it's a different kind altogether than the tall one I saw at Cheekwood. On the sign at the base it was identified as a: Picea abies 'Pendula' Norway Spruce Pinaceae. And do these get extremely tall?

Maxwell Cohn

be aware the Picea abies 'Pendula' cannot be traced back to a singular clone. Since there is a lot of DNA at play, there's really no way to predict how a specific plant will grow over time.

Many never produce a leader. To get height, they must be staked, but will never grow higher than the stake. They "knuckle over," returning to the ground, creating a large, green puddle.

Some clones have a strong central leader with weeping branches. Others will sprawl around for a while, then produce a leader for no particular reason.
Complete unpredictable, which is why this group is better named Picea abies forma pendula.

Jan Simmons

My weeping Norway spruce is flowing on the ground. For the second year, it has grown new green tips on the branches that by midsummer turn brown. I don’t believe this is a case of too little moisture as last year we were in drought but I watered it with soaker hose. This yea we have received sufficient rain 2-3 times per week. Any suggestions?