Picea orientalis 'Firefly' / Firefly Caucasian spruce

Picea orientalis 'Firefly' is a dwarf conical selection of Caucasian spruce with dense, symmetrical branching and stunning golden foliage that is dark green in the shaded parts of the plant. This conifer can be a conundrum with respect to initial siting in the garden. If planted in too much shade, 'Firefly' will be mostly green. When exposed to hot afternoon sun before setting deep roots, the golden foliage will burn, particularly on the upper branch surfaces. After several years in the landscape, it will become more tolerant of full sun. We recommend patience.

After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 6 feet (2 m) tall and 4 feet (1.2 m) wide, an annual growth rate of 3 to 6 inches (7.5 - 15 cm), about half the rate of 'Skylands.' Be aware that the original plant in the Jean Iseli Memorial Garden in Oregon grew very slowly until very recently and has started to "speed up" in its growth rate. Also, given that these plants are propagated through grafting, propagants will gain a bit of extra vigor from the understock.

This cultivar originated as a seedling selected in the 1990s at Iseli Nursery, inc. Boring, Oregon, USA. For years, it carried the provisional name of [Skylands sdlg #1] and may been seen growing in arboretums and nurseries with this name. Iseli Nursery details more of this exciting new plant's history at this link.

Picea orientalis 'Firefly' — the original plant in the Jean Iseli Memorial Garden, Boring, Oregon.
Photo by Randall Smith, Iseli Nursery, Inc.
© Iseli Nursery
A stunning photo of a large 'Skylands' in the background with 'Firefly' up front.
Photo by Randall Smith, Iseli Nursery, Inc.
Picea orientalis 'Firefly' a closeup of the original seedling in the Jean Iseli Memorial Garden, Boring, Oregon.
Photo by David Olszyk

Comments

Beth Bauer

You say the 'Firefly' reaches about 6 feet tall at ten years. How big does it continue to get? Or does it stop at about 6 feet ? And will this shrub do well in climate zone 6a ? Thank you!

David Olszyk

'Firefly' grows about 6 inches per year for many decades if not centuries. No tree will grow to a specific height and stop unless it's dead. It's fully hardy in USDA Zone 6a. See the link for specific climate data from this species' origin. Match it with your own to figure out if you plants will thrive or survive.
https://www.grida.no/resources/7894

Lori Kimble

How do you care for the "Firefly" I've researched the web and cannot find any care instructions. This is the third season for mine and it still looks burnt on the outside branches, but the inside is a lush deep green. Does it need to be fertilized? I seen on one website they were suggesting to buy Holly-tone along with your tree. A nursery told me not to let it dry out so how much water should it get? I'm in Zone 6a. Thank you!!

David Olszyk

see the first paragraph above:

"This conifer can be a conundrum with respect to initial siting in the garden. If planted in too much shade, 'Firefly' will be mostly green. When exposed to hot afternoon sun before setting deep roots, the golden foliage will burn, particularly on the upper branch surfaces."

If you're in the sun, the needles are going to scorch pretty dependably for 5 to 7 years.

Fertilizer: never fertilize a woody plant unless a soil test says that there's a deficiency. That website that says, "use Hollytone" probably wants to sell you Hollytone.

Irrigation: water deeply and infrequently only when soil is dry 2 inches below the surface.