So you love spruce trees and want to bring one inside but don’t know if it’s possible or exactly where to start even if it is. The first step is doing your homework.
Can you grow a spruce tree indoors? Spruce is one of the easier trees to grow indoors, requiring very little maintenance in comparison to other species. Much like bonsai trees, indoor spruces require pruning, watering, and light fertilization. They also need to be repotted every 1 or 2 years.
Read on below and discover everything you need to know about how to grow a spruce tree indoors!
How To Grow a Spruce Tree Indoors
Spruce trees are a popular tree for growing indoors. They look great, and they’re easy to grow and care for.
Indoor spruce have specific needs (similar to the Japanese juniper bonsai, another common indoor evergreen), which we cover in detail in the following sections.
Continue on and learn how to grow a spruce indoors, step-by-step:
Step 1. Selecting Your Spruce Tree
The first step to growing a spruce tree indoors is selecting the best tree for your wants and needs.
The size of the tree and container as well as overall health of the spruce tree, are all crucial considerations before making a selection.
You also need to think about lighting requirements and how much natural light is available inside your home.
Which Types of Spruce Trees Do Well in Pots
Perhaps the most important consideration to take into account before selecting any one particular spruce tree for growing indoors is which ones do the best in pots.
The following 13 types of spruce trees do quite well indoors in pots:
- Norfolk Island spruce
- Japanese spruce bonsai
- Dwarf spruce (Alberta)
- Black spruce
- Brewer spruce
- Caucasian spruce
- Colorado blue spruce
- Engelmann’s spruce
- Red spruce
- Sitka spruce
- Serbian spruce
- Siberian Spruce
- White spruce
The above list is only a sampling of the types of spruce you can grow inside pots. There are approximately three dozen species of spruce to choose from.
Step 2. Potting an Indoor Spruce Tree
After you’ve chosen your tree and the container to put it in, it’s time to get it set up for its new life in your home.
The best potting mix to use for potting an indoor spruce tree is garden soil and organic compost, mixed at a ratio of 1:1.
Here’s how to pot your new spruce tree:
- Add a 2- to 4-inch layer of LECA, pebbles, or stones to the bottom of the pot for better drainage.
- Scatter a few handfuls of dirt into the pot, just enough to cover the drainage holes.
- Place the tree, root ball first, directly into the bottom of the pot, and spread its roots out as much as possible.
- Add soil around the edges of the pot slowly, lightly pressing down on it over the roots.
- Continue filling the pot in with soil until it is 3 to 5 inches from the top container.
- Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch or compost to the top of the soil.
- Add water to the base of the tree until water is running out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
The last step is placing your tree somewhere that it will get plenty of indirect sunlight and maybe a few hours of direct light.
Step 3. Watering and Fertilizing an Indoor Spruce Tree
Watering and fertilizing an indoor spruce tree is a lot different than caring for the ones growing outside.
It needs a thorough soaking once per week and a bit of water each day (very much similar to the watering needs of bonsai trees).
Fertilizing is more relaxed and required less frequently. If you use granules (this slow, continuous-release food is excellent), you may fertilize once per year in the spring or summer.
Liquid nutrients may be applied once every few weeks along with water.
Step 4. Replicating Natural Conditions
The natural environment of thriving spruces range from places that rarely reach temperatures over zero degrees Fahrenheit to places that have average annual temperatures of around 50°F (because they enjoy colder climates).
Indoor spruces, however, adjust to and enjoy temperatures between 60°F and 80°F after being taken inside.
Outside in nature, spruce thrive under a wide range of lighting conditions so long as they receive at least 6 hours of direct light.
Indoors, positioning spruce near a window where they receive 8 to 10 hours of indirect light is best.
Step 5. Pruning and Controlling Growth
Indoor spruce trees are easier to prune than other trees because they have needles rather than leaves, which makes it easier to see what you’re doing with the snippers.
Spruce respond to pruning best in the early spring (usually March and April).
Start by clipping the center branch of the tree to the height you desire. Use this “lead” branch to guide you in pruning and shaping the rest of the tree.
You can shape the tree however you wish, though a conical shape is common for conifers such as spruce.
The more you trim your indoor spruce, the less it will attempt to get larger. After a few years, the tree becomes used to its small size and doesn’t even try to get much bigger in many cases.
Step 6. Repotting an Indoor Spruce Tree
Repotting indoor spruce isn’t nearly as much of a hassle as with other trees either. They need repotting once every year and a half to three years or so, generally speaking.
Simply remove the tree carefully from its old pot, and set it to the side in a container (or sink) full of water.
Let the tree soak for 15 minutes to an hour while you clean the pot out and refill it with fresh soil (or prepare the soil in a new, slightly larger pot).
Remove your tree from its luxury soak, and replant it following the same steps described above for potting indoor spruce trees.
Propagating a Spruce Tree
Spruce is one of the easiest trees to propagate. All you need to do is wait until the late summer or even the early fall, and take a few cuttings.
Once you’ve got some healthy cuttings, snip the bottom at an angle, and remove the majority of the needles on the stem.
Plant the cutting into quick-draining, nutrient-rich organic compost mixed with a bit of sand or loam.
Next spring you’ll have a newly rooted baby spruce tree.
Can Spruce Trees Be Kept Indoors Indefinitely?
Some spruce trees do better inside indefinitely than others. Many species, like the Alberta dwarf spruce, prefer to be moved outside from time to time throughout the year.
Most spruce trees can and do survive indoors permanently (so long as their light, water, airflow, and fertilization needs are being met).
However, any indoor spruce trees benefit from being taken outside from time to time.
If your tree outgrows your space, your only course of action will be to transplant it to a permanent home outdoors.
When To Transplant Your Potted Spruce Outdoors
Some varieties of spruce will eventually grow too large to kept indoors. Once you reach this point, it’s time to allow the tree to grow outdoors in its natural habitat.
The best time to transplant potted spruce outdoors is in the early spring before the new buds have appeared.
That way there is still enough time for it to recover, take root, and establish new growth before winter sets in.
Autumn is the second-best option for transplanting indoor spruces outside if you missed your chance this spring.
How Long Can You Keep a Live Christmas Tree Indoors?
Technically speaking, most live Christmas trees shouldn’t be kept indoors longer than 10 days. That said, if properly cared for, your live Christmas tree could stay inside for well over a month.
Is a Spruce Tree a Pine Tree?
Spruce is not a pine tree; it is a cone-producing conifer with a conical shape. Pine is also a conifer but has a different shape and produces groups of needles.
The two are often confused, but spruce trees are grouped in the Picea genus, and pines are in the Pinus genus.
Learning how to grow a spruce tree indoors is one of the best moves you can make if you enjoy houseplants, gardening, and trees in general.
Adding a spruce tree is a great way to, well, spruce the place up!