Hexenbesen Serbian Spruce - Tree FormPicea omorika 'Hexenbesen'
View more from Spruce Trees
30 day - ARRIVE AND THRIVE™ guaranteeLearn more
The Hexenbesen Serbian Spruce Tree is a very special dwarf evergreen with compact growth, that we have mounted on a short trunk to make it even more outstanding. This rare plant grows slowly into a broad conical crown on a thick trunk, with blue-green needles with silver backs. It is naturally dense and compact, making a unique specimen for a bed or in a planter, and it matures into a rare, coveted collector’s plant.
Grow the Hexenbesen Serbian Spruce Tree in full sun, in any well-drained soil, including poorer soils and gravels, as long as they are not too dry. Established plants have moderate drought resistance, and this plant is very cold hardy, surviving well in zone 4. It normally has no pests or diseases and it needs no trimming to maintain its unique compact form.
Some plants are grown for their toughness and reliability – real garden work-horses. Others are grown for attractive blooms. But some are grown for their uniqueness and charm, and many of the finest dwarf conifers are exactly that – rare, unique, and very appealing, with an enormous ‘presence’ that is far greater than their actual size. One outstanding plant in this category is the Hexenbesen Serbian Spruce, which is small in inches but big on charm. We love this plant, but when young it is small, so we thought, “How can me make it easier to enjoy?” We came up with an answer – mount it on a short stem, so it can be seen and admired more easily, up above the ground in full view. That way, as you watch it grow over the coming years, it will be up where you can see it more easily and appreciate it more fully. It can be grown in a bed, or in a container, as you wish – but however you grow it, this is one plant you will grow to truly love.
The Hexenbesen Serbian Spruce Tree is a slow-growing coniferous evergreen, adding just one or two inches of growth each year. It begins as a slightly flattened globe of dense branches, and in time it will develop a central stem, growing up into a squat cone. The dense branching is very symmetrical, so it has the balanced and neat look we admire in these special evergreens. Within 10 years the upper crown will be a little more than 2 feet tall, and almost as much wide, plus the length of the trunk, raising it 3 feet or more into the air and creating a very striking and fascinating plant. It will continue to add those inches each year, and the trunk will thicken more, so that in time it will be significantly larger, with great appeal and value. Notice that the trunk does not of course become taller, just thicker and stronger.
The needles of this tree are short and flat, ¼ to ½ inch long, with a dark green to blue-green upper surface and a bright silver underside. New growth is bright and silver-blue, turning greener as it matures. The brown buds at the ends of the branches are scaly and give an interesting touch to the plant.
Because this conical plant is mounted on a trunk it can be planted easily in beds among small shrubs, or among other dwarf evergreens. It could be used as an accent or focal point in a bed, especially with rocks and gravel around it. Plant it at the foot of a rockery as a miniature tree. It is also an excellent choice for a potted shrub, where it will bring its unique presence to a terrace or patio. Who knows, this plant could turn an average gardener into a true collector, starting a fascinating collection of unique and interesting plants that lasts a lifetime. It is also perfect as a gift for a keen gardener – they certainly won’t already have one, as we had to search widely to find such special plants.
Despite its size the Hexenbesen Serbian Spruce Tree is very cold resistant. In fact, it grows best in colder areas, thriving in zone 4, and perhaps even hardy in zone 3. Beyond zone 7, especially in the south-east, it will not like the heat and humidity of the summers, but it should grow well in the mild zones of the north-west.
Full sun is best for this tree, and that will keep it sturdy and compact. Too much shade will make it more open and therefore less attractive. It will grow well in any well-drained soil, preferring open, gravel or sandy soils, but not very dry ones. Mulch will conserve moisture, but once well established it is drought resistant in ordinary summers.
There is really no maintenance required for this plant. It needs no trimming, as it is naturally dense and compact, and trimming is not advised. Watch for any buds that may develop on the trunk, which should be rub off, as these are part of the root system, and not the plant you want.
It can be hard to believe, but this remarkable plant comes from a forest tree that can reach 100 feet tall. The Serbian spruce, Picea omorika, is a rare tree in the wild, which is found growing naturally only in a few locations in the valleys and peaks of the Drina river in Serbia. It is not endangered as a species, because it is grown for timber in many countries, and in larger gardens around the world.
In the late 1970s Günter Horstmann, at his family plant nursery in Schneverdingen, Germany, found a witch’s broom on another form of the Serbian spruce. These are strange dense clumps of branches that grow on the limbs of conifers, and many of our best dwarf forms began this way. Günter was a well-known conifer expert, and his nursery, now run by his son, specializes in those trees, in all their variety. He grafted some of the branches of this witch’s broom onto the roots of seedling Serbian spruce trees, and he found it grew into a very attractive plant. Originally it was known as ‘HB No. 2 Horstmann’. ‘HB’ stand for the German word for witch’s broom, Hexenbesen. Because of this we usually call it the Hexenbesen Serbian Spruce, but it is more correctly named after Herr Horstmann, as the variety ‘Günter’.
We had our skilled growers attach pieces of this plant onto seedling Serbian spruce trees, leaving a section of trunk. This creates the stem, also known in nurseries as a ‘standard’. Once the plants are established, they become small trees, with a unique appearance. We love to bring these very special plants to our customers. They buy them quickly, so order your tree now, because our stock is irreplaceable, and it will be gone very soon.