Picea rubens (Red Spruce) - 1 Qt Super Plugs

Available June 2020

Seed Source *

Red spruce (Picea rubens) is a coniferous evergreen tree in the Spruce family.  Native to Eastern North America, this tree is common in New England and at higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains through Tenessee and North Carolina.  Red spruce is a long-lived, shade-tolerant tree, typically sprouting in mature forests and growing slowly in the understory until disturbance frees up canopy space above.  Red spruce is the longest-lived of the Eastern Spruces.

Our Picea rubens New York strain is from the Adirondack Mtns. New York seed source, and is ideal for higher elevation habitats throughout the Appalachians.

Our Picea rubens Nova Scotia strain is from a seed orchard in Coastal Nova Scotia, and is preferable for lowland areas in New England.


Red spruce is a highly vaulable tree - It is one of the most important lumber trees in the Northeast, being mixed with white and black spruce as "eastern spruce".  With its light density, clear straight grain, and resonant qualities, Red Spruce is highly preferable for musical instruments.  Red spruce is also used by the paper pulp industry.  

Red spruce is an important wildlife species - Many animals rely on spruce groves for winter shelter, and hares and grouse browse the buds and young growth.  Red Spruce seeds are eaten by Red-Breasted Nuthatches, Crossbills, Pine Siskins, and other seed-eating birds.  Red spruce is reported to be unpalatable to white-tailed deer - An excellent evergreen tree in areas with high deer populations!

Cultivation/ Growing Information

Red spruce is said to be slow-growing and difficult to cultivate in common literature; However, we have grown it easily enough here at GreenTec Nursery in Central Indiana.  Red spruce grows best in areas with cool summer temperatures and high rainfall;  It is widely adaptable to different soil types.  It is typically found on gravely soils and muck soils;  However, it achieves its best form on the well-drained, organic soils of the Southern Appalachians.  In the garden or landscape, Red Spruce grows best in moist, well-drained soils, although it will tolerate slightly boggy or clay soils. (No standing water)

Red Spruce is an excellent medium-sized evergreen for windbreaks, grouping, naturalizing, and specimen planting.  Though uncommon in the landscape, Red Spruce makes a beautiful specimen, with full, dense growth and an excellent tiered structure.  Space 8-15 feet apart for naturalizing and windbreaks; To allow full natural growth, space at least 15 to 30 feet apart.

Red Spruce is best planted in early Autumn, preferably with at least 8 weeks of frost-free weather for establishment.  Spring is the second-best time;  However, in the North, soils can be frigid late into the spring, hampering root development.  

GreenTec Nursery's Red Spruce are grown in fabric RootMaker containers, yielding excellent, healthy root systems.  To plant, dig a hole 3 times the width of the rootball, and only as deep as the rootball.  (Soil will settle over time, so it is important to plant at the correct depth - If in doubt, plant high)  Water well; do not tamp the soil.  If the weather is dry, the plants will need watering once a week.

 Red Spruce can be a bit slow-growing at first; However, it is capable of growing 1 foot or more a year in good conditions.

Common Name: Red Spruce
Botanical Name: Picea rubens


5 out of 5 (based on 5 ratings)
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I got 3 of these new york strain Red Spruce and they are fantastic. Last year I ordered a few from the NH State Nursery and while they are also great, I noticed that they break bud much later and grow a little slower. I guess I prefer the NY strain, maybe it just does better in my area (northwest NJ zone 6B, around 700ft elevation). Will definitely order again!
Posted by John, May 5th 2017

excellent but . . .

Seedlings arrived all the way to Alaska promptly, were in very good condition, and a few extra included. Somewhere on the page the seedlings were described as 6-12" size, but 3-5" would have been more accurate, unless you measure from bottom of liner to top of seedling that is. Either way at 74 years old I may live long enough to see these as trees, but someone has to try it. I reached the P. rubens page directly from Google Search, and after ordering noticed too late that you also sell a Nova Scotia strain, which might or might not be better here where winters are cruel from intermittent thawing rather than from being very cold.
Posted by Neil McArthur, Apr 27th 2016

Great looking plants

Red spruce is hard to find. These New York strain plants look good and healthy.
Posted by Chris, Nov 1st 2015

Vigorous, healthy seedlings!

Very pleased with seedling quality, vigor, and timeliness of shipping. Seedlings are now off and running in their northern Michigan planting site!
Posted by undefined, Oct 21st 2015

Red Spruce Rootmaker Flat

The trees arrived healthy, although smaller than anticipated. Most were about 6". Some of the trees were dislodged during shipping, however they still appeared to be in satisfactory condition due to the significant root development.
Posted by undefined, Oct 14th 2015