The Picea Mariana ‘Nana’ (Dwarf Black Spruce) Full Care Guide

The Dwarf Black Spruce, otherwise known as the Picea Mariana ‘Nana’ or Black Spruce ‘Nana’, Bog Spruce ‘Nana’, Swamp Spruce ‘Nana’, Dwarf Black Spruce, is a rather well known tree plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and slow growth, this tree will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its blue-green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, this is exactly what we’ll cover in this Dwarf Black Spruce Care Guide. So let’s dive in.

But if you prefer to watch a short video instead, check it out here:

In order to take proper care of your Dwarf Black Spruce you’ll need to keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Water: The Dwarf Black Spruce prefers constant watering each week and more during the hot season.
  • Light: Keep your Picea Mariana ‘Nana’ in an environment where it can receive partial to full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Dwarf Black Spruce in soil with moist but well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, loam, and clay.

And as with many other plants, these are the only three care factors you need to remember to make sure your Dwarf Black Spruce is, for the most part, healthy and well to survive.

Picea mariana 'Nana' (Black Spruce) Leaves

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Dwarf Black Spruce belongs to the Pinaceae family, the genus Picea and the species Mariana, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Picea Mariana ‘Nana’ (PY-see-a mar-ee-AY-na).

Some of the more popular Pinaceae plants are Limbertwig, Pinus Strobus ‘Nana’, Archangel Redwood ‘Glauca’, Blue Spruce ‘Bialobok’, Corsican Pine, Loblolly Pine, Dwarf Pine ‘Mops’, Picea Abies ‘Nidiformis’, Picea Abies ‘Pumila’, Archer’s Dwarf White Fir, Alberta Spruce ‘Echiniformis’, Golden Deodar Cedar, Columnar Blue Atlas Cedar, Pinus Densiflora ‘Umbraculifera Compacta’, Tall Lodgepole Pine, Abies balsamea f. hudsonia, Dwarf Mugo Pine, Purity Pieris, Sherwood Compact Mugo Pine, Pinus Contorta Var. Contorta, Abies Lasiocarpa ‘Glauca Compacta’, FIRE N ICE Pieris, Abies koreana ‘Alpine Star’, Lantana Camara ‘Monike’ Plant Patent #17,612, Aurea Serbian Spruce and Photinia X Fraseri.

As with other Picea’s, the Dwarf Black Spruce is an evergreen plant, which means it will be present year round in your garden.

Growing Region

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Dwarf Black Spruce is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.

With this in mind, the Picea Mariana ‘Nana’ will be most used to the heat zones in the 1 – 6 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a and the ideal climate zone is between 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, A1, A2, A3.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Dwarf Black Spruce is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.


But what exactly does this mean for your Dwarf Black Spruce? How large a pot should you consider, how tall, how wide can it get? Let’s jump in…

The Picea Mariana ‘Nana’ can grow up to 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) tall and 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm) wide. 

These dimensions make the Dwarf Black Spruce a relatively medium tree compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful rounded shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 36″ (90cm) free so the Dwarf Black Spruce can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Dwarf Black Spruce is a fairly simple plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Picea Mariana ‘Nana’ prefers constant watering each week and more during the hot season.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Picea mariana 'Nana' (Black Spruce) Foliage

As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Dwarf Black Spruce in soil with moist but well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your Dwarf Black Spruce then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your Dwarf Black Spruce needs or does not need water, every time.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Dwarf Black Spruce prefers to have soil with good drainage properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand, loam, and clay.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Dwarf Black Spruce requires partial to full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this tree will do well as long as you keep it in full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Picea Mariana ‘Nana’ in full and direct sun (more than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being an evergreen plant, the Dwarf Black Spruce will be present year round in your garden.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.


The leaves from the Dwarf Black Spruce have a beautiful blue-green color during most of the year.

Picea mariana 'Nana' (Black Spruce) Tree


Does your Dwarf Black Spruce have any garden recommendations? Does it serve any gardening purposes? Here’s how you can get the most out of your new plant.

Most Picea Mariana ‘Nana’ owners agree that this tree will look great in most asian/zen and contemporary gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of gravel and rock garden, city and courtyard, and in informal and cottage styles. 

In particular, the Dwarf Black Spruce’s best location within your garden is in beds and borders, and in patio and containers, others use it for landscaping in a hedge, border, rock garden, container, mass planting, or a wildlife garden.

Companion Plants

Dwarf Black Spruce’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Cotinus, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Panicum will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!


Even though we covered a lot of care information for your Dwarf Black Spruce, remember the basics: sunlight, soil and water, as these should be enough to grow a healthy plant at home.

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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