Description of the Serbian spruce Karel

In nature, Serbian spruce grows in a limited area of ​​about 60 hectares and was discovered only at the end of the 19th century. Due to its high plasticity and rapid growth, numerous varieties were created on its basis, which quickly gained popularity and spread throughout the world. Serbian spruce Karel (Picea omorika Karel) is a dwarf derived from the witch's broom mutation discovered in Belgium by Karel Buntinks in 1991.

Description of spruce Karel

The Serbian spruce Karel is a compact, bush-like tree with a dense, dense crown. The young plant does not look very presentable, and consists of several branches sticking out in different directions. Later, they will become skeletal and overgrow with a large number of thin shoots, form a lush pillow or hemisphere. The appearance of an adult Serbian Karel spruce depends on whether the crown will be cut. She tolerates pruning well.

Spruce Karel grows slowly, and by the age of 10 it reaches no more than 60 cm with a width of 70 cm. But more often these figures are much more modest: 30 and 50 cm, respectively. An adult tree without shearing will be squat, up to a maximum of 80 cm in height, the diameter of the crown is about 120 cm.Each season, the Karel spruce stretches upwards by 3-5 cm, adds 5-7 cm in width.

After 10 years of age, the Serbian Karel spruce, whose crown is not pruned, forms a depression on the crown. If you wish, you can easily remove it with a haircut, but some owners leave the "nest" on purpose - it looks rather exotic and does not spoil the appearance.

The young needles of the Serbian spruce Karel are green; by the end of the season they darken and acquire a steel shade. The needles are short, 1.2-1.5 cm long, on the lower side there are two wide white stripes carved on them, on the upper side there is one dark green, shiny one. The needles have a rounded edge with a sharp tip, which is why they are not as prickly as in other types of picea.

The bark of the Serbian spruce is gray, with a red tint, covered with thin scales, densely pubescent branches. Cones are extremely rare. The Karel variety is shade-tolerant and does not suffer from smoke or gas pollution in the air.

It is assumed that this Serbian spruce, like all coniferous dwarfs, with good care will live for 50-60 years. But since the Karel variety is quite young, this has not yet been verified in practice. Can grow uncovered in zone 4.

Serbian spruce Karel in landscape design

Domestic landscape designers love Serbian spruce. They are not only beautiful and can improve the air on the site, but they are also much better adapted to Russian conditions than the North American species. In addition, the Serbian spruce not only tolerates air pollution well, it generally reacts little to it.

The Karel variety is dwarf, and with a haircut it can be shaped into a nest, pillow, ball or hemisphere. The plant looks great in rockeries, rock gardens, in a flower bed with not too moisture-loving flowers that prefer acidic soil. Ideal neighbors for the Serbian Karel spruce in landscape design will be:

  • other conifers;
  • rhododendrons;
  • heathers;
  • in partial shade - ferns;
  • hydrangeas, if you dig a curb tape around the bush to prevent water spreading;
  • roses;
  • peonies;
  • magnolias.

The list can be continued, choosing plants for flower beds, depending on the characteristics of the climate of the region and the taste of the owners.

Serbian spruce Karel is not afraid of strong winds. The small size allows the tree to be placed in a container.

Important! Serbian spruce trees planted in a pot require particularly careful maintenance.

Planting and caring for the Serbian Karel spruce

Serbian spruce Karel can grow in the sun or in partial shade. It tolerates wind and short-term drought. Caring for the Serbian Karel spruce is much easier than for varieties obtained from North American species, but the tree cannot be ignored.

Seedling and planting plot preparation

Choosing a suitable position for the Karel spruce is not difficult - this beautiful bonsai is always planted in an open place where there is a lot of sunlight. But if necessary, the plant can be placed in partial shade.

Serbian spruce is undemanding to the composition of soils, but only in comparison with other representatives of the genus. It will not grow on alkaline soils, and suffers with a neutral reaction. Dense soils that are constantly blocking or waterlogged are not suitable. To get out of the situation, you can place the Karel spruce on the embankment, or make the drainage layer 1.5-2 times larger than the recommended one.

The preparation of the pit must be completed no later than 2 weeks before planting the plant. It is dug so that the depth is equal to the height of the earthen coma. Add 15-20 cm for drainage, 10-15 cm for adding soil. The width should be 1.5-2 times the diameter of the earthy coma.

It is very simple to calculate everything in advance: in a small Serbian spruce, the root usually spreads in the area of ​​the crown projection. Knowing the growth rate of the Karel variety, it is easy to calculate the approximate volume of an earthen coma that nurseries leave when digging plants. It's even easier if you buy Serbian spruce in a container. Looking at the sites of garden centers, they determine what age the tree is suitable for the site and the owners' wallet. The volume of the container is also indicated there. In addition, approximate dimensions are needed, it makes no sense to calculate everything up to a centimeter.

When buying a seedling, you need to clearly understand the age of the plant. If this is a 4-5-year-old small Serbian spruce, its crown simply cannot be dense. The Karel variety will have few branches, and they stick out in all directions, and the tree does not look very presentable. Over time, the spruce will grow overgrown with lateral shoots and become beautiful.

An adult uncut tree looks like a pillow or hemisphere with imperfect symmetry. Clear contours or a ball-shaped crown indicate that the Serbian spruce was cut. The question must arise here: why? Perhaps to hide the tips of the shoots affected by some disease or pests.

If you have a choice, you should buy Serbian spruces grown in local nurseries - they are better adapted to the conditions of the region. Imported plants should only be taken in a container. Locals can be bought with an earthen lump lined with burlap. Serbian spruce with an open root system cannot be taken.

Important! The substrate in the container or the material with which the earthen ball is sheathed must be moist.

Even the darkened tips of the needles are a sign of trouble. So the needles need to be examined carefully. It should be alive, fresh, bend, but not break.

Landing rules

Serbian spruce prefers loams, although it is undemanding to the composition of the soil, and if the soil is loose acidic or slightly acidic soil, there is no need to specially improve it. When the land by some parameters is not suitable for planting conifers, instead of completely changing it, you can only improve it as follows:

  • sour (high-moor) peat is added to neutral or alkaline soil;
  • dense soil is made loose with the help of leaf humus, sand, turf;
  • clay is added to soil that is too light and contains a lot of sand.

It is useful to enrich the soil mixture with starting fertilizer. Usually, nitroammofoska acts in this capacity, which for Serbian Karel spruce is enough to take up to 100 g.

At the bottom of the planting pit, a drainage layer of 15-20 cm is laid (more on locking soils), covered with prepared soil by 2/3, and filled with water. After 2 weeks or later, start planting:

  1. With a shovel, they take out part of the earth from the pit and set it aside.
  2. A Serbian spruce is installed in the center, and if the root was wrapped in burlap, it is not necessary to remove it. The material will not interfere with the germination of roots and will decompose over time. The position of the root collar of the Karel spruce should coincide with the edge of the planting pit or slightly rise.
  3. The prepared soil mixture is constantly rammed as it falls asleep into the pit. This should be done without fanaticism, but only to avoid the formation of voids.
  4. A roller is formed around the trunk circle and the Serbian spruce is watered abundantly.
  5. When the water is absorbed, the soil is mulched with sour peat, or pine bark sold in garden centers.

Watering and feeding

After planting, the Karel spruce is watered frequently, so that the soil is constantly wet. But the water must not stagnate. When the tree is rooted, watering is reduced, but it must remain regular. Still, this is a varietal Serbian spruce that requires constant care, and not a species tree that absorbs only the water that it gets with the rain.

Important! All plants belonging to the species Picea omorika do not tolerate moisture stagnation in the root area.

Sprinkling the crown is important for a variety like Karel - this is the best prevention of the appearance of a spider mite, increases humidity, washes away dust, and facilitates the condition of the tree in extreme heat. The operation should be carried out after the temperature rises to at least 6 ° C, but it is better to wait for 10-12 ° C.

Important! When the Serbian Karel spruce becomes large and grows a dense crown, the branches need to be moved apart so that the water gets inside the bush.

Universal fertilizers for conifers should be used only as a last resort - they are not ideal for them. When planting varietal spruces, you need to remember that caring for them will also cost money. But today it is not necessary to spend a lot of money on specialized feeding - domestic manufacturers produce inexpensive, acceptable quality drugs.

Fertilizers for conifers in the garden should be of two varieties:

  • spring - with a high nitrogen content;
  • autumn, dominated by phosphorus and potassium.

Important! Manure or humus of animal origin should be excluded from the "diet" of firs - they will only bring harm.

Foliar dressing is of no less importance for the Serbian Karel spruce. The fact is that trace elements are poorly absorbed through the root, and it is better to give them by spraying the needles.

Sometimes novice gardeners begin to discuss the topic: "Who feeds the plants in the wild?" Firstly, how ornamental crops use artificially bred varieties, and not species trees, and secondly, the conditions on the site and in the forest are different. And not in favor of the gardens, no matter how carefully they looked after the plants.

Advice! It is useful to add epin or zircon, an additional dose of magnesium to a bottle with foliar fertilizers.

Mulching and loosening

Immediately after planting the Serbian spruce, the soil should be loosened regularly to ensure that the root system has access to nutrients, air and water. To do this, in adult plants, the lower branches will have to be lifted. After a year or two, loosening is stopped so as not to damage the roots.

Mulching the soil under the Serbian Karel spruce is useful for several reasons:

  • this prevents the lower branches from falling on the ground;
  • retains moisture;
  • prevents weed germination;
  • prevents the washing out of nutrients;
  • allows you to maintain the desired microclimate and acidity in the root area;
  • protects the tree from pests in the ground;
  • protects the roots of young Serbian spruces, whose branches did not have time to sink to the ground, from overheating;
  • stimulates the development of beneficial microorganisms;
  • mulch looks better than bare ground.


The crown of the Serbian spruce Karel does not need to be cut - it is already beautiful. But if necessary, in the spring or, depending on the region, in late summer or early autumn, the tree can be cut to give it a perfectly correct shape. The view tolerates cropping well.

Crown cleaning

This procedure will be useful for the Serbian Spruce, but it is not vital, as for Canadian dwarf varieties. In early spring and late autumn, Karel's branches are carefully pushed apart and cleaned off all dry needles, and dead shoots are broken off. Then the garbage is removed, and the tree and the trunk circle are abundantly treated with a copper-containing fungicide.

Sun protection

Serbian Spruce does not burn as much as Canadian Spruce. But over time, a depression forms on the top of an uncut adult tree, in which snow accumulates. Starting from mid-February, it must be removed, or covered with a Karel spruce on a sunny day with non-woven fabric or burlap.

Otherwise, the accumulated snow, especially icy or crusty, will serve as a kind of lens. The sun that has become active can burn the needles inside the crown in a week.

Preparing for winter

The Serbian Karel spruce winters without shelter in zone 4, that is, in those regions where the temperature has never dropped below -34 ° C during the time of observing the weather. It needs to be protected only in the year of planting, in cold regions - preferably in the second season.

To do this, the tree is wrapped in white non-woven material and tied with twine. The soil is mulched with sour peat. In the spring it is not harvested, but embedded in the soil. In subsequent years, you can only limit yourself to mulching.


Serbian spruce Karel is propagated by grafts and cuttings. Only a specialist can pinch conifers. An amateur can also root shoots, if you have patience and constantly pay attention to the cuttings.

The operation is carried out all season, but without special premises and equipment, spring reproduction will give a greater survival rate. Cuttings from Serbian spruce are cut off with hands with a heel (a piece of bark of an older branch).

The lower needles are removed, treated with a stimulant and planted in perlite or washed coarse sand. A mixture of peat and sand can be used as a substrate. Keep in high humidity in a cool place, protected from direct sunlight.

Even short-term overdrying or stagnation of water should not be allowed. There will be many lunges, but some of the cuttings should take root. As they grow, they are transplanted into schools or small separate containers with drainage holes.

Growing cuttings before planting in the ground takes 4-5 years. Any mistake or inattention during this time threatens the death of a young plant.

Diseases and pests

Serbian spruce is considered to be more resistant to pests and diseases in Russian conditions than other species. But preventive treatments and inspection of plants should be carried out regularly.

Serbian spruce Karel is damaged by pests:

  • spider mite;
  • mealybug;
  • various types of aphids;
  • butterflies Nuns;
  • leaf roll;
  • false caterpillars of a spruce sawer;
  • hermes.

At the first signs of insect infestation, the tree and the trunk circle are treated with an appropriate insecticide.

Typical diseases of the Serbian spruce:

  • shute;
  • rust;
  • rot;
  • wound cancer;
  • bark necrosis;
  • fusarium.

For treatment, fungicides are used.

Important! When processing, you should pay particular attention to the inner part of the crown of the Serbian Karelian spruce and the soil under the tree.

Reviews of the Serbian spruce Karel

Karina Vladimirovna Yudina, 43 years old, Moscow region

When we bought a small Serbian spruce Karel, it looked rather pitiful - several shoots sticking out in different directions. I was seduced by the sight of an adult plant, which was very expensive, and we could not afford it. Spruce spent a year in place, although they looked after her carefully. Then she gradually came to life, went into growth. Now the tree is not at all like what we bought - such a pretty hemisphere covered with thorns.

Denis Igorevich Luchnikov, 33 years old, Perm

I really love dwarf conifers. When I bought the Serbian spruce Karel, I suspected that I would have to tinker with it, like with Konika and other miniature "Canadians" with a dense crown. But, starting the next cleaning, I was pleasantly surprised! On Karel it took me 5 minutes, while with Echiniformis (Picea glauca Echiniformis) of the same size I had to tinker more than 30. I thought it was by chance. But the next cleaning showed that Serbian spruces are indeed much easier to care for in this regard.


Serbian spruce Karel is a miniature decorative variety that can decorate any site. It tolerates Russian conditions well, and if the tree is looked after regularly, it will not take much time or effort.

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