Picea glauca 'Pendula' / weeping white spruce

Picea glauca 'Pendula' is a graceful, narrow-upright selection of white spruce with a strong central leader and steely blue foliage on stiff, strictly pendulous branches that cascade down the trunk and flare out slightly at the tips. After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 10 feet (3 m) tall and 3 feet (1 m) wide, an annual growth rate of 1 foot (30 cm).

This cultivar originated as a spontaneous weeping mutation found in the 1860s in Trianon Park, Versailles, France. French botanist, Élie-Abel Carrière formally described it in botanical literature in 1867 in Traité Général des Conifères. In the Latin language "pendula" translates into "weeping or pendulous."

Picea glauca 'Pendula' — a fairly young plant at Porterhowse Farms, Sandy, Oregon, USA.
Photo by Stephen Grubb
Picea glauca 'Pendula' — photo record donated by Richard and Susan Eyre.
Photo by Rich's Foxwillow Pines Nursery, Inc
Picea glauca 'Pendula' in the Heartland Collection of Dwarf and Rare Conifers, Bickelhaupt Arboretum, Clinton, Iowa. This plant was 8 years of age when this photo was taken in spring, 2003.
Photo by Chub Harper
Weeping white spruce photographed in the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children's Garden of the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, Boothbay, Maine, 2013
Photo by Sean Callahan
Picea glauca 'Pendula' — closeup of foliage detail; photographed in the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children's Garden of the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, Boothbay, Maine, 2013.
Photo by Sean Callahan

Comments

Linda

I have a question. I was told that it was a slow grower and that you could trim the leader back. How much can I trim back and when can I trim it?

David Olszyk

Hi Linda ... you were told wrong. I've seen this one put on a foot or more of growth every year. Typical mature specimens measure upwards of 20 feet tall. Pruning spruces is an art form in itself. It's very difficult to do and rarely comes out right. Honestly most people don't even try to do it. I especially recommend not messing with the leader.

Lisa

Hello,
I recently planted a tree that was tagged weeping white spruce, however I was told it was a Weeping Norway Spruce. Upon some research I see they are quite different. On the tree I have the top (I think its the leader) is hunched over and not growing upright. Is this ok, should I be doing anything to help it along or straighten it?

David Olszyk

Hello Lisa. You are correct in the Picea glauca 'Pendula' and Picea abies f. pendula grow with very different structure. It sound like you plant is knuckled over. That leader will eventually reach the ground and start rambling around. At this point in the season, the new growth has likely hardened off to the point that, if you try to straighten it, it'll break.

The best you can hope for is to stake up a weaker branch which may or may never achieve apical dominance. Also be aware the weeping Norway spruce will only grow to the top of its highest stake, then knuckle over once again.

Renee

I have a Weeping White Spruce that I think has reached maturity because even the leader is now weeping. My question: Can I remove the fence I've had around it for protection from deer? or will the deer graze the lower branches destroying the characteristic look? Thank you.

David Olszyk

Renee, I have seen 100s of these plants over the years. Not a single one has had a weeping leader. I've seen some up to 50+ feet tall ... straight up!

Deer behave differently in different parts of the U.S. ... In Washington and Oregon, they never touch white spruce; so I can't account for the local psychology of your deer.

Renee

Several years back, I may have damaged the leader. But then it started growing again. I’ll upload a picture. I have only seen it from the ground. Thanks for your information.

David Olszyk

I saw your picture and will upload it later. Your plant definitely suffered some sort of mechanical damage at some point. The tree will usually re-establish a lead shoot and resume a skyward journey.

Alex

Hi there! Are there any dwarf varieties of this tree? I don’t want a 20’ tall tree but love the form. Wondering if some of them are smaller? Thanks!

David Olszyk

up to this point, a dwarf, weeping selection of white spruce has not been selected.

Ronald Schlak

alex , this IS a dwarf form . it will take many , many years to reach that
I say , plant one & enjoy
you will NOT regret it

Angie

Landscaper just planted a 5'-7' weeping white spruce, and the leader is bent and the whole tree is very dusty (when you brush up against the tree). Is this a problem with how the tree was stored? Do we need to try to stake the leader to help it straighten up?

Ronald Schlak

Angie , I THINK the leader will straighten itself,,,it can't hurt to gently attach a piece of bamboo to help...the dust is a mystery ,, hose it off

Linda Currie

I have a Picea glauca Pendula that I planted 2 years ago when it was 10 ft. tall. Soon after planting some critter nibbled the bottom branches. The rest of the tree has lovely spring green new growth, but these bottom branches remain naked. Is there anything I can do to encourage growth at the bottom. The bottom 15 inches of the trunk is bare.

David Olszyk

probably rabbits. There are millions are skirtless spruces out there because of them. Your tree will never grow from the bottom. Trees simply don't grow that way. All growth happens from the tips of the live branches.

Here's what you can do: carefully cage the bottom couple of feet of the tree. Eventually the weeping branch tips will reach the ground yet again.

Anabelle Schmidt

I planted a weeping white spruce last year with a beautiful leader. This year is full of thick green cones and the top is flat with not leader it disappeared!! just four branches flowing down full of cones. What’s going to happen should I pick a leader from the four branches flowing down or should I leave it and let the time decide. I don’t know what to do. Any suggestions?

David Olszyk

Conifers often produce tons of cones when they feel that their life is in danger and do this in an attempt to pass on its DNA before its demise. It's often a reaction to transplanting. More times than not, it takes 5 years or more to establish a new conifer, especially if it's fairly large (and B&B) to begin with ... lots of cut roots.

How tall is the plant? Lead buds get damaged all the time. If you select and tie up a secondary shoot in hopes of creating a new leader, the plant will decide that it didn't like your decision and choose a different one. So, I never do anything and they always figure it out on their own. It's in the plant's nature.

Charlene Calo

I want to order a weeping white spruce for my berm. How big is a 2-year plant? Should I order a bigger one? I'm in zone 7. Thanks!

David Olszyk

Hi Charlene, a 2-year-old plant will be around 7 to 10 inches tall, basically the youngest plant that a reputable nursery would consider selling. If I were to buy one so small, I'd grow it out in a pot for a few years until it's strong enough to plant out.

R Cronenweth

I have a Picea glauca 'Pendula' that I planted in May, 2008 (it was probably about 4 to 5 feet tall at planting). Its now about 30 feet tall. Yesterday I noticed many brown needles had fallen off to the ground. Upon further inspection much of the underside of some limbs are turning brown and the needles shake off easily. I haven't ever noticed this in years past. I live in the southeastern part of lower Michigan. Is some sort of disease setting in?

David Olszyk

Hi Rw ... seasonal shedding of internal needles and baring of old branchlets is normal for all spruce. However, if it seems extreme to you, it's possible that you've got a case of needlecast going on. Your county extension could confirm.

Barry Kresky

Hi Dave, I’ve been all over the internet and can’t seem to find much information on how the weeping white spruce is cultivated. Do you have any information? Such as grown from cone seed, cuttings with root hormone, grafting?

Allison

I want to plant one of these near my limelight hydrangeas. How much space should I allow? Do I need to worry about the plants suffocating each other? And how tall does this tree get at full maturity?

David Olszyk

After 10 years, it'll be only around 3 feet wide.

Like any woody plant, it doesn't stop growing for many decades of not centuries. All that's necessary is to do the math: 10 feet tall after 10 years, 20 feet tall after 20 years, 100 feet tall after 100 years ... They don't stop.

Width will always be 25-30% of the height.

Bret

I have 4 Picea glauca 'Pendula' trees now about 13-years old; doing great. I had to travel to Oregon from Idaho to pick these up from a wholesaler as #10 7-8 year old trees. I've tried each year to propagate these with rooting powder in a sandy loam with absolutely no luck. Would you have any tips for me as I would love about 4 more of these on my property but not excited about another 13 hour drive.
Sincerely,
Bret

David Olszyk

Hi Bret ... these are 100% propagated through grafting. Rooting cuttings are exponentially difficult and not worth the effort.

Luckily for you, this is one of the most popular and easy-to-find conifers in the nursery trade. Any garden center worth shopping at should either have them or would be willing and able to special order them for you.

If you don't want to do that, probably every nursery that does mail-order will probably have them.

Teresa

I would like to plant a weeping white spruce near the corner of my house, but was not sure if it is a good idea. How close can these safely be placed near the foundation without causing issues from the roots?

David Olszyk

I've never heard of conifer root systems ever messing with a foundation. I don't know where that came from.

Michael

Greetings,

I had planted a fairly large weeping white spruce summer of 2018, about 10-12 feet tall. The trees main leader came from the nursery cut, which seemed odd to me. It had established a new leader, that was also cut (prior to me receiving the tree). My guess is the nursery was practicing some artistic pruning of some kind.

The tree hasn't done as well as I'd hoped since being planted. Last summer I removed the supports, it hasn't toppled over, but about 30% of the tree has gone brown and dropped needles. Lots of bare patches, minimal growth up top without any indication of a new leader forming. I really like this tree and am hoping it pulls through whatever is stressing it. There does seem to be some fresh growth on it this spring, although no foot of growth i see talked about here.

The tree is in the front yard in partial shade, the house shades it mid day, mornings and evenings its full sun. There are some huge oaks that have some branches high above it.

Any ideas what might be going on with my tree?

David Olszyk

could be any number of things, Michael.

1. planting a huge tree like that in summer is extremely risky ... only about a 25% chance of it working at all. Even under the best of conditions, it'll take five years before it gets going.

2. If it was B&B, did you remove the burlap and binding that holds it all together? Did you plant level with the top of the ball, or did you try to find the root flare and plant so the root ball was level with soil surface?

3. If it was potted, do you unwind the roots, expose the root flare, ensure that it's not planted too deeply.

4. did you water only when needed (dry 2 inches below the surface)? Too much water before roots establish leads to rot.

5. you didn't say where are you trying to grow it. This species doesn't work in the southeast and struggles in the west.

6. Did you add any sort of product to the planting area? Unless a soil test indicates a deficiency, never add anything to the soil; it could shock the plant.