How to plant blue spruce trees


How to Grow and Care for Colorado Blue Spruce

Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) is a coniferous evergreen tree with sharp and short needles that belongs to the pine family. The official state tree of Colorado, this slow-growing spruce is native to the Rocky Mountains, where it was first discovered in 1862. In the wild the Colorado blue spruce can grow up to 75 feet tall. In parks and gardens it usually tops out from 30 to 60 feet high. Colorado blue spruce is one of the most widely used trees both for holiday decorations and landscaped backyards. Its pyramid shape, silvery-blue foliage color, and wonderful smell make it a classic choice for a Christmas tree. Then, when the holidays are over, seasoned gardeners like to use the tree's boughs to make a shrub shelter to overwinter garden bushes.

The best time to plant a Colorado blue spruce tree depends on your climate. You can plant spruce year-round in mild climates, but if you live in an area with harsh winters and frosts, it's best to plant this tree during the late winter or early spring (late February through April), when it's dormant. If you plant blue spruce in the early fall, there's a chance it will become susceptible to winter injury and die-back.

Common Name Blue Spruce, Green Spruce, White Spruce, Colorado Spruce, Colorado Blue Spruce
Botanical Name Picea pungens
Family Pinaceae
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 75 ft. high, 15-20 ft. wide.
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Loamy, clay, sandy, moist, rich, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Hardiness Zones 2-7 (USDA)
Native Area North America

Colorado Blue Spruce Care

An established Colorado blue spruce tree is easily maintained, as it only needs regular watering when it is first planted. Providing 2 inches of garden mulch around the base of the tree helps it retain moisture in between waterings or during drought years. Spruce trees benefit from a high-nitrogen fertilizer once a year in the form of compost, and they thrive in areas with several hours of filtered sunlight a day.

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Light

Plant Colorado blue spruce trees in full sun, ensuring they get at least six hours of unfiltered sun per day to reach their full growth potential. Blue spruce can tolerate some shade, but planting in a low-light area can increase disease incidence and severity.

Soil

A spruce tree grows best in a location with moist, well-drained soil made fertile through the use of soil amendments. However, this tree can adapt to a variety of soils—loamy, sandy, or clay. As for soil pH, spruce thrive in a range between 6.0 and 7.5, but its unfussy nature makes this tree able to tolerate extremely acidic or alkaline soils.

Water

Once established, this tree is drought-tolerant and can survive periods of low water, but it thrives with scheduled waterings. During the first season, water the tree regularly to keep the soil moist. Once the tree is established, water it only during dry spells. Avoid waterlogging the tree or creating areas with standing water at its base.

Temperature and Humidity

A native to high mountain areas, Colorado blue spruce is tolerant of dry, cold weather. Still, this tree variety can tolerate heat and humidity better than other spruces. Blue spruce will not thrive in extremely hot conditions, however, as its needles will turn brown and fall.

Fertilizer

These trees do not need frequent fertilization. That said, spring fertilization will give the tree an added nutrition boost and likely increase the length of the needles and improve needle color. Sprinkle 10-10-10 slow-release granulated fertilizer over the soil in the root zone. Then, water with about 2 inches of water to prevent fertilizer burn. Better yet, use a natural and pet-friendly option like compost, fish emulsion, cottonseed meal, or alfalfa meal, to avoid burn altogether. For fertilizer amounts, follow the product label instructions.

Types of Colorado Blue Spruce Trees

Colorado blue spruce comes in several varieties, all with beautiful silvery-blue needles:

  • Picea pungens "Baby Blue Eyes" is a semi-dwarf cultivar that grows 15 to 20 feet tall.
  • Picea pungens"Bakeri" features a deep blue color and grows 12 to 20 feet high.
  • The dwarf variety Picea pungens "Glauca Globusa" grows 3 to 5 feet high, 3 to 6 feet wide, and rarely produces cones.
  • Picea pungens "Moerheimii" has branches that droop and grows to a maximum of 30 feet tall.
  • Picea pungens "Montgomery" is another dwarf variety that grows 5 to 6 feet high and has dense, blue needles.

Pruning

Colorado blue spruce has a slow to medium growth rate, growing less than 12 to 24 inches annually. This tree does not need to be pruned, but can be if you want denser foliage. In this instance, prune off half of the fresh growth on each candle (the tip where branch growth occurs each year) in the spring.

Propagating Colorado Blue Spruce

Colorado blue spruce grows well from cuttings taken mid-summer and then planted in the fall. Cuttings take a while to root (two to three months) and need to be treated with a strong rooting hormone. Grow cuttings in cool and humid conditions for successful propagation. Here's how:

  1. Gather your garden shears, an alcohol wipe, a paintbrush, a potting container, peat, medium-grit sand, 0.6-percent indolebutyric acid rooting talc, and a spray bottle.
  2. Combine equal parts peat and sand in a bucket. Cover the mix with water and let it sit until the peat swells. After that, fill your potting container with the mixture.
  3. Clean the blades of your shears with alcohol and cut a tip 4 to 5 inches long from one of the tree's side branches. Make an angled cut between two sets of needles.
  4. Strip the needles from the bottom half of the cutting and peel the bark from the end. Brush the end with rooting hormone.
  5. Poke a hole in the potting container equal to half the length of your cutting. Insert the cutting into the hole and backfill it with the peat mixture.
  6. Place the pot in a cool indoor spot with filtered light. Avoid direct sun.
  7. Drizzle water regularly onto the peat's surface, and mist the air above the cutting, allowing the water to fall onto the needles.
  8. Check for roots after two months (it could actually take up to four months to root), and then move the pot outside into direct sun to acclimatize for a week, bringing it in each night.
  9. Transplant the cutting into the ground in early autumn by digging a small hole, placing the baby tree and the contents of the pot into the hole, backfilling it, and then spreading a thick layer of mulch around the base. Water the tree regularly for three years until it's established.

How to Grow Colorado Blue Spruce from Seed

With patience, Colorado blue spruce can be grown from seed after collecting and drying pinecones to obtain the seeds. Come spring, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours and then wrap them in a moist paper towel and store them in the refrigerator for six weeks. Next, place a seed in a container filled with moist seed starting mixture, cover it with 1/4 inch of the mixture, place plastic wrap over the container, and relocate it to a sunny spot. Keep the mixture moist until the seed germinates and grows about an inch, then remove the plastic wrap. In all stages of growth, Colorado blue spruce is slow so this may take a while. Harden off the seedling by bringing it outside into direct sunlight for several days. Transplant the seedling to the ground once it's acclimatized, mulch around the baby tree, and water regularly for three years.

Overwintering

Colorado blue spruce is native to cold climates, therefore established trees do not need special care in the winter, as the tree will go dormant during this season. You can, however, spread a layer of mulch around the tree's base in the fall and wrap its trunk in burlap to protect it from hungry animals. Also, make sure to shake the branches after a heavy or wet snowfall to prevent them from snapping due to the snow's weight.

Common Pests & Diseases

The two most common issues affecting Colorado blue spruce trees are fungal blight and beetle kill. Among the pests, they are also affected by aphids and the Cooley spruce gall adelgid. The former will cause the needles to grow yellow blotches and become sticky, while the latter can be identified by the presence of a cotton-like substance on the spruce's branches. To ward off pests, hire a company to spray the tree with a non-toxic horticultural oil that won't endanger birds, pets, or humans.

This variety of tree can also be affected by disease, the most common and destructive of which is Cytospora canker. This fungal disease typically moves into trees that are 15 to 20 years or old, causing the needles to turn brown and drop from the branches. Cytospora canker is a stress-induced disease, so manage it by amending the soil regularly and not overwatering.

Common Problems with Colorado Blue Spruce

While blue spruce trees need ample watering during the first several years, it's easy to overwater them with this mindset. Signs of overwatering include browning needles, wilting branches, and die-off. To prevent this from happening, make sure the tree never sits in standing water, and provide ample mulch to keep moisture around the tree's base, allowing you to go longer in between waterings.

Article Sources

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Blue Spruce: Common Health Issues in the Landscape. University of Massachusetts Amherst Extension Landscape, Nursery and Urban Forestry Program.

Everything About Growing Blue Spruce Tree | Blue Spruce Care

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Planting blue spruce tree is rewarding; it is an attractive native American conifer, read below to know more about blue spruce care and growing.

Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens) is a beautiful native American conifer. This extremely rustic silvery blue tree reaches the height of 9 – 21 m (30-70 ft) in its region of origin. Nice bluish green color, accentuated by the sharply pointed foliage makes it a perfect conifer for open landscapes and large backyards. Dwarf forms of blue spruce are also available that reaches only between 1.5 to 4.5 m (5-15 ft) tall and are suitable for small gardens, patios, and terraces.

This pyramidal conifer has a habit of growing slowly. Its persistent and fragrant needle-like bluish green foliage are densely distributed around the reddish gray twigs. These needles are stiff and sharp.

USDA Hardiness Zones — 3 – 8

Difficulty — Easy

Other Names — Blue Spruce, Green Spruce, White Spruce, Colorado Spruce or Colorado Blue Spruce and Picea Pungens.

Propagation and Planting Blue Spruce

Blue spruce is usually propagated by cuttings, graftings, and seeds. Blue spruce cuttings are collected, preferably in the morning from vigorous branches. These cuttings should be dipped in a rooting hormone before planting in containers in a mixture of peat and sand. After planting keep the cuttings in a bright spot and keep the growing medium moist. These cuttings take a long time to show signs of growth, and you must wait several months, and the success rate is also poor. Once the cuttings show growth, plant them in the right place. Air layering of the blue spruce tree is also possible.

Only mature blue spruce trees produce the cones. These cones drop their seeds in spring. Blue spruce seeds require a considerable period of light to germinate: 14 to 16 hours per day. If the length of light falls below 12 hours a day, they become dormant. Seedling Growth of blue spruce is also very slow, and you need to be patient.

If you are planting a blue spruce tree, our recommendation is to buy a plant from nursery so that you’ll not have to wait for that much long.

Position

Planting a blue spruce tree on location in moist soil with full sun to light shade is optimal. However, blue spruce trees can tolerate less than perfect conditions but growing them in a heavily polluted area can affect the blue color coating of the needles.

Blue Spruce Care

Blue spruce tree care involves a few requirements and slight maintenance to keep it healthy and vigorous.

Soil

Soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter. You can add compost while planting. It is also required to keep the soil slightly moist when the plant is young as mature trees can tolerate dry soil.

Fertilizer

Conifer fertilizer is expensive (like 30-15-15 with minor elements) but very effective especially if your soil is sandy. These fertilizers will give all the nutrients and help the tree growing vigorously with a nice look and much denser foliage.

Water

Regular watering is required for the young plant. Once established, watering must be abundant but infrequent only during the dry spells. All conifers need a vital water supply in the fall before frost to accumulate reserves; this allows them to withstand the sun’s rays in March when plants still have their feet in the gel, causing called spring burn.

Weeds

Planting area around this magnificent conifer should be kept clean and weed free, especially when the plant is not well established. A good thick cedar mulch or of other organic matter is sufficient to prevent annual weeds.

Pruning

Do not prune these trees. They do best when their branches are allowed to grow all the way to the ground.

Pests and Diseases

Use a magnifying glass to examine the needles of your blue spruce for signs of Rhizosphaera needle cast (Rhizosphaera kalkhoffii), a fungus that causes needle cast disease. It pushes through the stomata of the affected needles and looks like fuzzy black spots. If not treated, blue spruce needles turn purple to brown and eventually fall. Although, the fungus doesn’t usually kill the tree. Besides this blue spruce trees are also susceptible to white pine weevils.

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Blue Spruce Seedlings: Planting and Care

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2 years ago

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For most of us, such a seemingly familiar tree as spruce traditionally evokes persistent associations with the most beloved holidays of the year and the high spirits that accompany them. In this regard, modern landscape designers recommend spruces for the design of urban and suburban areas. Solving the problems of decorating a garden, professionals offer various types of fir trees, from familiar and well-known varieties to exotic and very bizarre ones. A worthy place among the general coniferous favorites is occupied by blue spruce - an important person in any area.

Requirements for blue spruce seedlings

  • If a decision has been made to plant blue spruce in a garden plot or near a town house, the first step is to decide on a seedling. It is recommended to purchase a blue spruce seedling from a nursery or specialized garden center. A seedling of blue spruce with a height of just over half a meter is considered optimal. Tall trees may not take root in new growing conditions.
  • When purchasing a seedling of blue spruce, you should not try to choose an absolutely perfect tree and immediately reject options with a slightly twisted trunk: such a slight external flaw is not critical for a young spruce. As the blue spruce seedling develops and grows, the trunk will gradually level out, and the imperfect tree, with proper care, will turn into a slender, straight-stemmed beautiful spruce. When buying a blue spruce seedling, it is important to pay close attention to other external characteristics of the tree: rich color and dense needle structure.
  • Blue spruce sapling purchased from a specialist center is always sold in a pot or container. Such a measure ensures the safety and quality of the root system of the plant and largely guarantees the future survival of the tree in a new place. In addition, buying blue spruce seedlings in a container makes it possible to plant trees from March to October.

Blue spruce planting rules

  • How to plant a blue spruce seedling so that an important coniferous beauty adequately demonstrates all its decorative potential? Choose an open sunny area for it: a light-loving tree is able to form the correct crown shape only in a well-lit place. A cramped or shaded corner will cause the plant to not be able to boast of its classic graceful crown shape. The correct crown of a tree should resemble an even cone or pyramid in shape.
  • Planting in rich black soil, characterized by excellent fertility, can result in increased tree growth. A seedling placed in conditions of excessive nutrition will grow up and spread out in breadth, losing all its famous decorative effect as a result of this growth. In general, when planting, blue spruce does not impose special requirements on the composition of the soil, it develops well in both sandy and loamy soils, however, fertile loamy soil with low acidity will be the best soil option.
  • Preferred planting time is early spring. Spring planting gives the tree the opportunity to adapt and prepare for future wintering in a new place. There is a simple test to determine the readiness of the land for the spring planting of blue spruce. To do this, you can dig a small hole in the garden and determine if the soil has thawed. If so, it's time to start landing. Planting a blue spruce in the fall often threatens to turn into the death of a plant if the seedling did not have enough time and strength to take root in a new place before the onset of cold and frost. If it became necessary to plant blue spruce in the fall, it is preferable to choose the very beginning of the season for this purpose.
  • Before planting blue spruce, peat, sand and humus are added to the planting hole. The pit for planting a blue spruce should be two to three times the size of an earthen clod. The plant is very sensitive to possible injuries to the root system, so you need to carefully carry out the procedure for planting blue spruce.
  • When planting blue spruce, you need to carefully place the seedling in the hole without damaging the earthen ball, straighten the roots that can break out of the ball, and carefully fill the hole with soil.
  • Do not forget about good drainage, laid on the bottom of the planting hole. To do this, a layer of tiles, broken bricks, crushed stone is laid on the bottom of the prepared hole. The importance of drainage is that it will prevent excessive wetting of the root system and prevent it from rotting, since blue spruces do not cope well with stagnant moisture.
  • Don't plant the area too densely with blue spruces. Trees grow fast enough, and the best distance between them will be a distance of 2 - 3 meters.
  • When planting, it is important to control that the root collar of the seedling does not go below the soil surface, and because of this the plant does not die.
  • After planting blue spruce, the planting site should be compacted to prevent air from penetrating the roots of the plant - this measure will save the root system from premature drying out. Then the blue spruce should be watered abundantly.
  • Immediately after planting the tree, it is recommended to mulch the circle around the trunk. Mulching will prevent the emergence of weeds and the drying of the soil over the roots of the seedling.

Care of blue spruce after planting

  • Blue spruce seedling needs regular watering after planting. Yearling plants are recommended to be watered several times a day, using a small amount of water in each irrigation session. Since the root system of the plant is superficial, it is not able to absorb the entire volume of the poured liquid, which simply goes into the ground. An adult tree on hot days should be watered once a day, spending a bucket of water per plant. Watering is done in the evenings, and only warm water is used for irrigation. When caring for blue spruce, both spraying and sprinkling are practiced, which clean the branches and needles from dust and give the tree an additional decorative effect. Watering of trees is carried out exactly under the root, moisture on the needles is not allowed. Unnecessary moistening of the needles can provoke the appearance of sunburn on it, which will negatively affect the health of the tree and its appearance.
  • If the tree is planted in good garden soil, blue spruce does not require additional feeding. Poor soil requires a small amount of mineral fertilizers, however, compositions with an impressive amount of nitrogenous substances are best avoided in the care of blue spruces. From organic fertilizers, fresh manure is categorically contraindicated. Top dressing is provided only in the first few years, otherwise the decorative compact plant threatens to turn into a huge and sprawling forest giant.
  • When caring for blue spruce, weeding is not recommended, especially when it comes to young seedlings. You need to get rid of only large weeds that can strangle a small tree. Surrounding with weed grass will create the necessary microclimate near a small seedling, and grown spruce thickets of weeds are not terrible, but the site still should not be launched, at the risk of reducing its decorative effect.
  • Pruning plays an important role in caring for blue spruce, and experts distinguish between sanitary and decorative pruning. At the beginning of spring, sanitary pruning is needed, which involves the removal of deformed, dead and dried shoots, and in summer - decorative pruning, which decides the issue of crown formation. During decorative pruning, healthy branches are removed. The crown is formed by summer pruning only in the first few years of the tree's life; an adult spruce copes with crown formation on its own. Both sanitary and decorative pruning help the tree grow healthy and beautiful. It is important that the tool used for the pruning procedure is well-sharpened and clean. Places of pruning branches must be treated with garden pitch.
  • The care of blue spruce in autumn does not include the mandatory preparation of the tree for winter, since spruce is famous for its high frost resistance and tolerates harsh winters well. However, a young plant should be provided with a shelter that protects the spruce from snow drifts that can break off fragile shoots. Solving the issue of shelter, you can simply wrap the tree with covering material, tying it with twine or a soft hemp rope. With the first rays of the spring sun, the shelter can be removed, since the blue spruces are not afraid of the timid March sun, which excludes the possibility of sunburn on the tree.
  • Blue spruces, like other conifers, are subject to infectious diseases and pests, so one of the important places in the care of blue spruces is the timely diagnosis of diseases and their prevention. Advanced agrotechnical practices and quality blue spruce care contribute to growing a healthy and beautiful tree.

Blue Spruces, grown by thoughtful and caring gardeners, look great both alone and in group plantings. The plant can be successfully used in the design of alpine slides, rockeries and in company with deciduous trees and flowers. They can be a unique center of the composition, and a discreet background, and a reliable hedge, with honor solving all the tasks assigned to them by demanding landscape designers.

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How to plant a blue spruce | Purshat. Official website

  • How to plant a blue spruce

Conifers

03/30/2020

11 minutes to read

Content:
  1. . Features of blue spruce
  2. .How blue spruces propagate
  3. .Planting blue spruce in spring
  4. .Rules for landing in the ground

Content: 1. Features of blue spruce 2. How blue spruces are propagated 3. Planting blue spruce in spring 4. Landing rules The blue spruce in your backyard is an impressive, noble evergreen tree that can become the center of a landscape composition. To grow a real beauty, you need to know how to choose and how to plant a blue spruce according to all the rules of agronomy. In our climatic conditions, these trees grow up to 15 m in height, but in their homeland they are giants reaching 30 meters.

Blue spruce features

Blue spruce needles of amazing, silver-bluish color varying in shades. Cones of the same color, as if covered with a whitish haze. When they become obsolete, they become a traditional brown or closer to a burgundy shade. Mature trees of this species have incredible resistance to weather changes, strong winds, frost, debilitating drought. They are grown on the territory of our country, however, in order for the spruce to please with a pyramidal crown and magnificent color, it is necessary not only to plant correctly, but also to choose a seedling. Blue spruce is sold wholesale and retail in nurseries, at specialized bases for the sale of horticultural products or in large shopping centers of the corresponding direction. When buying a seedling, pay attention to the root system of the plant. It should not be damaged or overdried. There should be no mold or rot in the pot. If you took hold of a sprig of spruce and needles fell from it, refuse to buy such material right away. This is a dying plant. It is very important that a coniferous tree is resistant to the ecology of even a big city. Christmas trees are used for landscaping gardens and squares, planted along highways and roads. Ephedra, like no other plant, so actively and thoroughly cleans the air around, saturating it not only with oxygen, but also with useful phytancides.

How blue spruces are propagated

There are 2 ways to propagate blue spruces: 1. Cuttings. To do this, choose cuttings from 7 cm to 12 cm long, already having bark at the tip. The selected material is placed in a mixture of sand, perlite and peat (1:1:1), and covered with a film. The substrate is regularly watered, watching when the first roots appear. Small plants are planted in a greenhouse. Each cutting of blue spruce requires the utmost attention. He needs not only sunlight, but also sufficient indoor humidity, balanced watering and top dressing. Planted plants in open ground after a year. 2. Seeds. This method is much more laborious, while its efficiency is much lower than in the previous version. Seeds are selected from spruce cones, treated with a weak solution of potassium permanganate, laid out on a dry rag and dried (not in the sun). Store the dried material in the refrigerator. Seeds are planted in pots with a peat substrate, planting to a depth of no more than 2 cm. Seedlings are placed in open ground as soon as the snow melts from the ground.

You must remember that by planting blue spruce seeds, you can get an ordinary green beauty as a result. Completely identical trees can only be obtained with the help of cuttings.

Planting blue spruce in spring

Blue spruce seedlings are planted in the ground in spring so that small plants have time to take root and prepare for a difficult, long winter. For proper development and formation of a tree, you need to: • for better survival of the plant, use product Purshat-O , which will protect the tree from sunburn and help to quickly adapt to new living conditions; • water the plant well so that the soil in the root zone does not dry out; • place the seedling in a well-ventilated, sunny area, conifers do not tolerate excess moisture; • loosen the soil around the Christmas tree with extreme care, because the roots of the plant are located close to the surface; • carefully monitor the health of the seedling, with the appearance of reddish needles, urgently take action; • inspect the territory in the near-stem circle of the plant, there should not be a large number of needles (this indicates that there is excess moisture in the root system). In anticipation of the winter cold, it is advisable to treat the Christmas tree with the Purshat-O preparation, designed specifically for the protection and normal development of coniferous plants. The substance will help retain all the trace elements and moisture necessary for the plant.

Landing regulations

If you have several blue spruce seedlings, choose a larger tree. It is more adapted to life, has grown stronger and has every chance to quickly take root. You need to choose a place for planting, taking into account that the Christmas tree does not grow in a damp lowland, sunlight is vital for it. The place for planting the Christmas tree must be cleared of weeds, dig a hole into which the root system of the plant can easily fit, remove the tree from the pot, and plant it in the ground together with a clod of earth. It is undesirable to deeply deepen the Christmas tree, because the root system can be damaged. A hole with roots is dug in and the ground around is carefully tamped, in order to avoid getting a lot of air. After that, the place around the trunk is well spilled with water.



Contains:
  1. .Features of blue spruce
  2. .How blue spruces propagate
  3. .Planting blue spruce in spring
  4. .Rules for landing in the ground
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