91225For a tree that is native to the upper elevations of the Rocky Mountains, blue spruce, Picea pungens, does surprisingly well here. It only wants to be watered a bit through summer to compensate for the lack of rain and humidity in chaparral climates. It does not seem to miss a more pronounced chill through winter. Disease and insect infestation are uncommonly noticeable or damaging.

Garden varieties are impressively variable. Some are like big shrubbery that stays below downstairs eaves. The biggest do not get much taller than thirty feet, and take many years to get so tall. Most but not all are stoutly conical. Color is variable as well, ranging from grayish green to silvery bluish green. The evergreen foliage is very dense. Individual needles are only about an inch long.

Blue spruce demands patience, planning and room to grow. Pruning for containment compromises their naturally appealing conical form. Therefore, even compact cultivars that do not need much space will need enough to mature completely. However, because they grow somewhat slowly, blue spruce may take a few years to actually occupy much of their space, and function as intended.

4 thoughts on “Blue Spruce

  1. I’ve never seen a blue spruce as healthy as the one in your picture. There was a huge blue spruce in the yard where I grew up in western Washington. It was huge but it had some sort of infestation so the outside needles were ok and the interior ones were brown. There are blue spruces here in western North Carolina, but only the top half of the trees have needles and the lower branches are always dead and brown.

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    1. Wow! I really did not want to use this picture because the tree is so sparse and distressed. I have pictures of better trees, but I had used them before. The lower half of the tree is quite bare, and the upper canopy is quite sparse. I should cut it down, but I do not want to. I still like the tree.


      1. Why is it distressed? Blue spruces here have healthy branches on the top half and dead branches on the bottom half. The tree looks awful unless you prune the lower dead branches.

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      2. That is about what this one looks like. It is crowded by an oak, so one must be cut down. I really like the spruce, but will probably cut it down so that the oak can take over. I do not know why it is distressed; but I know many here look about the same. I suspect they dislike the aridity of the Santa Clara Valley, but it is not so arid here.

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