Blue Spruce

A close up of a tree at a garden center near me.

By Richard Flowers, ACCNP-Green Thumb Nursery-Ventura

With its magnificent sight and endless tiers of branches graduated with perfect symmetry, the Blue Spruce is comprised of a slender but strong top, silvery blue-grey foliage, and perfect Christmas tree shape that is great for landscaping a focal point. Its no wonder the Blue Spruce is one of the most popular ornamental conifers.

Each year and every year during this time Green Thumb gets in these beauties. People buy them time after time. They plant them in their yards, gardens or give them to friends and family. Maybe they use the Blue Spruce as a memorial or tradition or as something from the good old days that their mother or father or grandparents had when they were growing up and they decorated them with Christmas lights. It is one of the better known traditional conifers that people come to symbolize at Christmas.

The first time I ventured to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah I viewed down in the canyon’s ravine, near a flowing stream were trees that were grey-blue, perfectly, symmetrical, stiff branched, and 60 foot tall Blue Spruces. They were superbly beautiful, assembled in groups scattered everywhere, growing up though the red sandstone.The suns rays caught one at the perfect angle and the shadow the spruce made on the ground was amazing. It was a perfect silhouette. Utah is one of the places these grand trees are native to, above 7,000 feet elevation. I thought to myself why can’t these glorious trees grow back home in Southern California? For about 8 years my neighbor down the street from where I live had a Blue Spruce growing in his yard. It was situated under open shade but still very good light through a large Elm tree. The spruce was surrounded by a lawn and received lawn watering. Every time I went on a walk, I could just see the top of it, barely peering over the 4 foot hedge. In a location just 1/2 hour inland from the ocean, the Blue Spruce appears to me that it was growing satisfactory.

Botanically known by the name Picea pungens. Pungens means sharply pointed leaves in regards to the needles it possesses. The Blue Spruce grows to a height of 50–75’ or taller and a spread of 10–20′ at maturity. They are at home in the high country in the forested Rocky Mountains of the southwest. In our own climate, it will likely grow considerably smaller, grow much slower, and be short lived. I believe it will do better in a container than in the ground especially if you have clay soil. In fact the Blue Spruce can grow in a container for several years. Usually they grow 10-12 ft. tall in 10 years and 10-20 ft. wide with age per year, but oftentimes less than that if it is not in its native habitat or out of its range. It prefers growing in a soil that is acidic, moist, rich, sandy, and well-drained. Intense heat and salt spray are not its friends. Blue Spruce prefer to be protected from drying winds, benefits from irrigation in dry weather, and needs regular watering- weekly, or more often in extreme heat. Make sure to water young plants during dry spells. Even though the tree likes the soil to remain moist, especially while it’s still young, it becomes more drought tolerant as it matures. It is highly recommended to distribute a 2 or 3 inch layer of garden mulch around the plants (but not up against the trunks) to help retain moisture in the soil. Blue Spruce needs very little in the way of pruning.

You read in literature and it explains that the Blue Spruce will be an unsatisfactory grower here or is it that you should not believe everything you read? The truth behold, in our area it will not grow like it does in the high mountains of Colorado or it will not languish either but may be stressed.

Not only do we have Blue Spruce, we also have dwarf spruces as well.We have a healthy supply of these wonderful trees, come on in and check these out while supplies last. I encourage you to plant a tree, any tree, it is rewarding and will last for years to come.


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