Gold Drift Norway Spruce

Picea abies ‘Gold Drift’

Gold Drift Norway Spruce

Picea abies ‘Gold Drift’

This product is currently out of stock and unavailable.


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Gold Drift Norway Spruce is a unique cascading specimen evergreen with lime-green needles that turn golden yellow in the sun. It grows quickly to cover an area of 10 to 12 feet across, or become a specimen 10 to 15 feet tall, within 10 years. Grow it on banks and slopes, cascading over walls or among boulders, or stake it to become a tall specimen weeping tree. It looks just as exciting and unique either way, and you get to decide, depending on your needs. Why not get two and grow it both ways?

  • Lime-green needles dusted with gold
  • Cascading growth forms a dense groundcover
  • Can be staked up into a weeping tree
  • Fast-growing, 12 inches a year
  • Cold resistant and easy to grow

Full sun is needed for the Gold Drift Norway Spruce to develop its characteristic ‘gold dust’ look. It is hardy, growing in zone 3 to 4, and thrives in cooler climates with good sunshine. It grows in most soils, doing best in moist, well-drained soils but having some drought resistance once well established. Young plants may scorch a little in their early years, but this stops once they become more mature. Pests and diseases are very rare, and this vigorous, fast-growing plant is one of the most spectacular evergreens available.

Plant Hardiness Zones 3-8
Mature Width 2-15
Mature Height 2-15
Sun Needs Full Sun
Zones 3-8

Imagine golden branches cascading across the ground, and piling up in deep drifts of needles. Imagine a tall weeping tree, with branches cascading to the ground, each one a skein of golden threads catching the sunlight. Imagine you could have both, or either, from the same remarkable plant. You can when you plant the Gold Drift Norway Spruce, because its growth pattern is in your hands. This remarkable evergreen has lost the knowledge of how to grow upwards, so left to itself it will spread out across the ground, following the contours; cascading down a slope, spilling over a wall, or flowing between boulders. With some help from you and a strong stake, it can be held up to form a central trunk of any height you want, while the side branches follow gravity and cascade downwards, making a striking weeping tree. The only constant is the rich golden color that the lime-green needles turn when exposed to the sun. Best of all, this is not some pampered miniature adding just a few inches a year. Within 10 years it will add 12 to 15 feet of growth – upwards or outwards – becoming a truly unique and spectacular specimen to show with pride.

Growing the Gold Drift Norway Spruce

Size and Appearance

The Gold Drift Norway Spruce is an evergreen tree that forms a cascading mass of branches, growing about 12 inches of new growth each year. The branches are densely encircled with needles that are between ½ and 1 inch long. They are closely-packed, pointing slightly towards the end of the branch. They are a bright lime-green color which holds well for years, without darkening very much over time, but spring growth is a little brighter and fresher looking. Where the sun strikes the needles directly they turn bright lemon gold, looking like gold dust has been scattered across the plant. Direct sun is needed for this color to develop, and you might see some burning of the needles in summer on young plants. Don’t worry, as it grows and mature this will stop happening, and the gold effect will be unblemished. Older plants may produce small purple-red cones up to one inch long in spring, that release yellow pollen, and female cones that may develop into 7½ inch long hanging cones 6 months later.

This particular plant lacks the orientation of most trees to grow upwards, so the branches simply cascade downwards if not controlled. A plant left to do this will form a thick flowing carpet across the ground, flowing wherever gravity takes it. Within 10 years it will be about 12 feet across, in a pile of branches a foot or two thick. If you attach it to a strong stake as it grows, you can lead it up 10 to 15 feet high, with cascading side branches.

Using the Gold Drift Norway Spruce in Your Garden

The remarkable plant should be planted where it can be shown to best effect. If you want it cascading, plant it on a slope, at the top of a wall, or among rocks and boulders, perhaps with other unusual conifer varieties. As a staked specimen it can be grown among shrubs in beds, with other conifers, as a lawn specimen or in a paved patio. It can also be grown in a large tub as a specimen.


This plant is remarkably cold-hardy, growing well in zone 4, and probably also growing in zone 3, as the parent tree does. Although it prefers cooler areas, and may struggle in very hot and humid summers, it will grow in zone 8.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

To develop the gold effect on the needles, this tree must be grown in full sun, with as much direct sunlight as possible. It does especially well in regions with lots of summer sun, once the potential for sun scorch on young plants has been outgrown. It grows best in moist but well-drained soil that is acidic or neutral. Avoid very alkaline soils and very dry soils, although plants that are well-established have good drought tolerance to normal periods of summer dryness. Mulch over the roots with stones or organic material will help it in drier places.

Maintenance and Pruning

If you want to grow the Gold Drift Norway Spruce as a ground cover, just plant it, remove any stakes it comes with, and let it grow. You can lead the branches in particular directions if you wish to. To grow it as an upright specimen, use a strong stake, preferable steel, and tie one or two of the flexible branches to it, training them upwards as it grows. The stake will soon be hidden by the stems, but it will always be needed to prevent breakage. It can be upright, or at an angle to create a graceful curtain of branches. This tree could also be trained up a wall or on a fence in any fashion you want it to grow. Side branches should be allowed to cascade naturally. Pests and diseases are normally not a problem for this tough and vigorous plant, which will benefit from some tree fertilizer in spring.

History and Origin of the Gold Drift Norway Spruce

This plant is a selected form of the Norway Spruce, Picea abies. That tree grows throughout Scandinavia, and also in mountainous areas of France and Italy. It forms a tall forest tree 60 feet tall, that can in time reach 150 feet or more. There are many selected garden forms, including several that have lost the ability to naturally grow upwards. The two varieties that do this most are called ‘Reflexa’ and ‘Inversa’, and these may in fact be the same plant. In 1990 the plantsman Bob Fincham, who owns a former nursery and personal arboretum called Coenosium Gardens, in Eatonville, Washington State, found a unique branch growing on a tree of ‘Inversa’. He called it, “Unlike anything currently available anywhere”, and named it ‘Gold Drift’.

Buying the Gold Drift Norway Spruce at the Tree Center

This plant is seriously coveted by collectors, and in 2013 it was included in the American Conifer Society’s ‘Collectors’ Conifer of the Year’ program. We know that collectors will soon find that we have this plant, and they will be gone. Order right now, because rare plants like this leave our farm almost as soon as they arrive.

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Gold Drift Norway Spruce

Picea abies ‘Gold Drift’