Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Colorful Evergreens in the Landscape-Part II: Blue Evergreens

Blue Evergreens in the Landscape
Are you looking to add permanent vibrant color to your landscape?  Well look no further. In the previous segment I discussed the implementation of colorful golden evergreens into the backbone or foundation of the landscape. There are also several varieties of blue evergreens that can act as a stand alone piece or complement the golden evergreens in your garden.  These varieties are hardy in a number of areas including USDA hardiness zones 2-8.
Cedrus atlantica glauca 'Pendula' (Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar)
The first in our series is among the most popular of the blue evergreens. Known for its graceful pendulous silvery-blue branches, Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus Atlantica 'Glauca Pendula') is an outstanding specimen.  Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar is hardy to USDA Zones 6-8, prefers an acidic-slightly to alkaline well-drained loam soil and location in full sun (6-8 hours sunlight). They are tolerant of many soil types but will not fare well in soils with poor drainage such as clay.  These magnificent trees can be trained as an upright or spiral trunk and can be maintained at a desired size through selective pruning.   Depending on the structure of your tree it can reach a height of 10-15 feet and a width of 8-10 feet across and would be difficult to transplant once established. Be sure to give it room to grow.  As your tree matures its cascading branches will drape down to the ground giving your tree grace and charm. 
Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca'
Belonging to the same genus, Upright Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca') is the upright larger form of blue cedar.  Reaching to a height of 40-80 feet this pyramidal evergreen is a wonderful stand alone piece.  This specimen enjoys a moist, well-drained acidic-slightly alkaline soil in full sun and is hardy to USDA zones 6-8.  Majestic in every way, Cedrus atlantica is one of the true cedars named after its native area, the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco.  Blue Atlas Cedar rapidly grows upright over its first ten years then spreads to a width of 10-15 feet in the landscape.  Give it plenty of room preferably on its own berm and allow this showpiece to shine.
Picea pungens 'Montgomery' (Globe Blue Spruce)
For a smaller area in the garden add some blue by incorporating Picea pungens 'Montgomery' or Montgomery Globe Spruce.  Dwarf in stature, this globe-shaped evergreen exhibits compact bright blue needles on a flat-topped and densely branched shrub.  This specimen is excellent in tight spaces since it only reaches a height and width of 2-3 feet.  Globe spruce prefers to be grown in a moist, well-drained acidic soil and is hardy in zones 2-8.  Use this beauty as a focal point in the garden.  It serves nicely as a foundation planting or as an accent in an evergreen-perennial garden.

Picea pungens 'Fat Albert'
Used as an anchor in a foundation planting or as a privacy screen, Colorado Blue Spruce 'Fat Albert' is definitely a beauty.  'Fat Albert' is a slow grower, reaching to a height and width of 10-15 feet and gets its name from its wider appearance.  It is hardy in USDA zones 2-7 and prefers full sun and a moist but well-drained acidic soil.   Avoid planting this tree in a heavy clay soil as the roots will suffer from poor drainage.   Also it is very important that this tree receive  "full" sunlight meaning 6 or more hours of daylight daily in order to thrive and prevent fungal disease.   Give it this tree plenty of space to grow and it will provide color and structural interest to your landscape.  Picea pungens 'Hoopsi' is a narrower pyramidal form of this tree growing to a height of 15-18 feet.  

Picea pungens 'Bakeri'
Next is a more compact form of blue spuce-Picea pungens 'Bakeri' or Bakeri Spruce.  'Bakeri' spruce is hardy to USDA zones 2-7 and stays more pyramidal at a height of 15-18 feet and width of 6-8 feet.  This blue-green spruce prefers to be grown in full sun in a slightly acidic, well-drained soil.   This beauty also has a wide variety of uses such as a focal point in a foundation planting or as an accent tree in an informal garden.

Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'
For a little blue along the perimeter of your garden try Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'. Juniperus 'Blue Star' exhibits bright silver-blue foliage on low branching needles and grows to a maximum height of 2-3 feet making it an excellent foreground planting. This welcome member is hardy to USDA zones 4-8 and prefers to be grown in full sun in a semi-moist well drained slightly-acidic soil.  Once established this evergreen requires minimal watering.  Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star' works well as a mass planting, rock garden plant, seacoast planting or as an accent in a perennial border.

Next time you are looking to add some everlasting color and interesting texture to your landscape try adding a little bit of blue.  Complement the blue color of these fabulous evergreens with a little bit of gold, burgundy, purple or yellow.  The mixture of cool and warm colors will create a dramatic impact in your garden that will bring much enjoyment to your landscape.

Author:Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved


  1. Nice post. These are all very pretty, but that weeping cedar is fantastic!

  2. Wow! These evergreens are certainly something I would like to incorporate into my garden-so much color. Thank you for the informative post!

  3. Great collection of landscape evergreens! I would like to know how sharp the needles are on the Blue Star juniper and Globe Blue spruce. I just don't like plants with *effective* defense mechanisms of any kind.

  4. Hi Heidi. Both plants are quite lovely. The Globe Blue Spruce is softer than the Blue Star Juniper but neither is excessively sharp.

  5. Hi Lee,
    How tall and wide can I expect Picea pungens 'Hoopsi' to grow in its lifetime in zone 7? Also, in your experience, what kind of annual growth rate can I expect?

  6. Hi Sharmin. 'Hoopsi' will grow to about 15-18 feet in height by 6-8 feet wide. It is not a fast growing tree and will reach maximum height in about 10 years.

  7. The shot you have of Fat Albert is actually not what the original plant looked like at all. It was selected for its dense, full, "fat" habit. Over the years, the quality has dropped drastically on the crops and now they look like the one you have posted. Also, Hoopsi is a full-sized tree that grows about a foot a year... they don't stop growing, though they may slow down as they age. The original trees were over 60' tall!

    1. Hi Pat. You have pointed out some good facts. I do remember 'Fat Alberts' being a lot wider and the 'Hoopsi' taller. They have really hybridized these plants over the years to fit the residential landscape. The original trees were really majestic!

  8. Hello Lee

    Thanks for the helpful advice on evergreens. I will be putting a few Montgomery Globes in the front yard this year based on this post. I also need some advice for the back. I have an area that is all shade or morning shade with afternoon sun at the edge of the woods and I would like to plant some flowers (perennials only!) and shrubs that would do well there. They should all bloom in blue. No hosta please as I have many of those already. Any recommendations you can make would be appreciated.

    Tom, Zone 5, OH

    1. I am glad you found the information useful Tom. Montgomery Spruce are a wonderful addition to the garden, are low maintenance and add constant striking color to the landscape. They are also perfect for your zone...hardy all the way down to zone 2. For shade in your zone I would recommend shrubs such as mountain laurel, viburnum, rhododendron and yew. Some hollies are also tolerant to zone 4. For perennials; heuchera (coral bells), astilbe (visions in purple), japanese forest grass, sedge and liriope (purplish-blue blooms) all tolerate shade. Always choose plants that are tolerant to a zone lower than yours just in case you get an unusually cold winter and be sure to check the hardiness on the tags since different varieties of the same plant can vary in cold tolerance.


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!


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