Colorado Blue Spruce Trees

Planting Information, Description

Blue spruce needles (image) truly are bluish. This tree is popular for Christmas.
David Beaulieu

Taxonomy and Botanical Information for Colorado Blue Spruce Trees

Plant taxonomy classifies Colorado blue spruce trees under the botanical name, Picea pungens. The species plant is native to the Rocky Mountain states in the U.S. One of the cultivars to grow is 'Glauca,' which is a Latin word that indicates a grayish-blue color. These plants are evergreen trees and grouped with the conifers. They are members of the pine family.

Characteristics of the Plant

Colorado blue spruce typically reaches a height of 30 to 60 feet tall (but it can become taller than that) and spreads out 10 to 20 feet wide. Its silvery-blue needles are prickly to the touch and have a strong, fresh, piney smell. Its pyramidal shape, foliage color, and wonderful smell make this plant a classic choice for a Christmas tree.

Sun and Soil Needs, Growing Zones for Colorado Blue Spruce Trees

Plant them in full sun to partial sun and in a location with a moist, well-drained soil made fertile through the use of soil amendments. They will tolerate partial shade, but you will be happier with your plants' performance if you give them enough sunshine. This specimen is tolerant enough of mildly acidic soil to be grouped with the acid-loving plants, but it is not overly fussy about soil pH and will perform just as well (maybe even a bit better) in ground that has a neutral pH. Colorado blue spruce trees can be grown in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 7. 

Tips on Plant Care

Colorado blue spruce trees do not need to be pruned, but they can be pruned if you wish to promote denser foliage. Prune off half of the fresh growth on each candle (that is, the tip at which branch growth occurs each year) in spring. Make sure to water young plants during dry spells. Apply 2 or 3 inches of garden mulch around the plants (but not up against the trunks) to help retain moisture in the soil.

Uses in Landscaping and in Decorations

These plants can be planted in rows to form windbreaks or "living-wall" privacy screens. But they are equally effective when simply used ornamentally, as specimen trees.

Not only are they popular as Christmas trees, but their boughs are also useful in various kinds of ​Christmas decorations using greenery. From wreaths to swags to holiday garlands, lovers of tasteful Christmas yard decorations turn to boughs from evergreens such as Picea pungens for raw material for crafts projects. Some people even lay the cut boughs over a shrub shelter to provide "roofing" that will help the protected bush make it through the winter in good shape.

More on Colorado Blue Spruce Trees

Colorado blue spruce trees are valuable in deer country, as their prickly texture and strong smell render them conveniently deer-resistant. In the snowy North, where landscapes can look barren in winter, evergreens such as Colorado blue spruce trees can provide much-needed winter interest.

Speaking of winter, a growing trend is to buy them live (in containers) for indoor Christmas decorating, then plant them outside as landscape plants after the holiday. Dig the hole in the ground for planting well before December, so you will not have to dig through frozen dirt. Bring the excavated dirt inside, to keep it from freezing. This will help to keep it loose so that you will have workable dirt with which to fill in around the new specimen after transplanting it into its hole.