TREES & plants

Blue spruce

Blue spruce, also known as Colorado spruce, is a conical-shaped evergreen tree with stiff horizontal branches and short stiff needles. It is a commonly used tree in Midwest landscapes. In nature the needles are often green, but many specimens produce blue-green needles. 

Botanical name: 
Picea pungens (syn. Picea pungens 'Glauca')
All Common Names: 
blue spruce, Colorado spruce, Colorado blue spruce, blue Colorado spruce
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)
Native Locale: 
  • North America
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 2
  • Zone 3
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Dry sites
  • Alkaline soil
  • Clay soil
  • Road salt
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
  • Small shrub (3-5 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Pyramidal
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Shade
  • Massing
  • Screen
Time of Year: 
  • Early winter
  • Mid winter
  • Late winter
  • Early spring
  • Mid spring
  • Late spring
  • Early summer
  • Mid summer
  • Late summer
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
  • Late fall
More Information: 

Size & Form

30 to 60 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide
A dense, symmetrical pyramidal habit

Tree & Plant Care

Spruce grow best in full sun. Dense shade results in bare branches. Protect from drying winds.
Adaptable to wide range of soil but require good drainage and benefits from irrigation in dry weather.
Spruce need very little in the way of pruning.
All evergreens experience seasonal needle drop. Spruce will hang on to needles for 3 to 4 years.  

Disease, pests, and problems

Cankers, needle casts, spruce adelgid, spider mites, spruce budworm, cytospera canker

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to the southwestern United States from Colorado Rockies, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah

Bark color and texture

Bark is gray and broken into large scales

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Green or blue-green, 1 to 1/2 inch sharp needles attached singly around the stem.  Individual needles are four sided in cross section and borne on a a raised peg on the stem.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male pollen cones and female cones that become woody when pollinated.  Both male and female cones found on the same tree.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Medium-sized cylindrical cones, 2 to 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, light brown in color.  Cones are often clustered near the top of the tree.

Cultivars and their differences 

Globe blue spruce  (Picea pungens 'Glauca Globosa')  Grows only 3 to 5 feet high and 3 to 6 feet wide producing a neat, dense, compact, rounded shape.  Seldom produces cones. Good accent plant for foundations and borders.

Montgomery blue spruce (Picea pungens 'Montgomery')  Grows  5 to 6 feet high and 5 to 6 feet wide.  Rounded when young; broad and conical when mature.  Seldom produces cones. The silver-blue foliage adds color to the winter landscape.