Black spruce [Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.] development is sensitive to photoperiod. To date the implication of photoperiod, and especially phytochrome, in the frost hardening process of black spruce has not been fully tested. Two light fluence rates, night interruption of darkness, and red vs far-red radiation treatments were applied to black spruce seedlings, followed by freezing at –6°C. Parallel to the freezing test, growth measurements, bud formation and the xylem water potential estimates of the seedlings were done. While dry weight accumulation depends on the irradiation energy level, bud formation and freezing tolerance are photoperiodically sensitive. Furthermore, bud formation and frost hardening are dependent upon whether phytochrome is in the active form or inactive form, as demonstrated by the positive effect of short days, far-red radiation and the reversal of the red effect by far-red radiation. Also, xylem water potential appears to be influenced by short day and far-red conditioning.