Blue Atlas Cedar

blue_vision(z5 CT)April 17, 2006

I picked up a blue atlas cedar last fall for half price. Did not have a set place in the garden for it so I overwintered it in my holding garden. Never dawned on me to look at the soil it was growing in pure sand and gravel. Well the winter was very dry and by spring the tree is not looking all that good. Some needles are yellowing. I have since replanted it in better soil and have been watering it like crazy. Do you think it has a chance of making it or will it eventually perish.

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Hmmm, zone 5 huh? How much of a zone 5? It will likely die eventually from a winter.

However, I'd say that if it still has a fair bit of green or blue on left on it, chances are it will survive. Don't quote me on that though. They can handle quite a bit of needle burn and subsequent loss, but if the buds pull through they recover okay.

Wait and see,


    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 10:24PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

LIkely climate is too cold and if it did persist it would eventually make a big tree, out of scale with many modern residential lots. We have them ~100' high here in USDA 8.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 12:57AM
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livingfossil(6a Dayton OH)

My Blue Atlas Cedar perished in my zone 6 mild winter last year. My Deodar Cedar "Shalimar" on the other hand pulled through nicely and has new growth coming. :)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 2:59AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

mine died in zone 5 ..... and i still hate the bigboxstore that sold it to me with a label that said it could handle zone 5 .... am i right on your source? ... ken

PS: easy way to remember ... or at least err toward caution ..... no "cedar" is rated for zone 5 .... an arb is a type of cedar ... but usually labeled as an 'arb' [a different family group] ... and most of those are OK for zone 5 ... but not all ... there is one cedar coming down the pipe that they claim can take z5 ... but you will pay through the roof for it ... libani i think ... and i doubt you will find it at the BBStore .... i am going to wait a few years and let other friends prove to me that it isn't all hype ...

this is one of the best reasons .... if you have a tendency toward collecting .. to learn the latin names.. and family groups.... and perhaps even start to learn the native ranges of some of this stuff ...knowledge is power.... e.g. cedrus libani ... is the cedar of lebanon [i think] ... lebanon is NOT z5 ... lol ... but if there are mountain areas ... you might find one that gets close to z5 ... this is an example .. i wouldn't bet a buck on it from a scientific point of view ... its early .. more coffee ... lol ..

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 8:35AM
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Cedrus atlantica = Cedrus libani atlantica = "Blue Atlas Cedar" = death in any zone 5.

If you want a hardy/hardier (true) Cedar try: Cedrus libani var. stenocoma.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 9:18AM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

Zone 5 is my my growing environment. I have grown two Cedrus atlanticas and one Cedrus libani for quite a few years now. Saw -8 F.last winter with no problem. All did needle drop in spring for the first two years after I planted them. Now I don't even experience that. Maybe it's just luck and I am liveing on the edge. If we ever get a -16 F. which I saw about twenty years ago I could be in trouble. Right now I sure do enjoy having them in my collection.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 9:29AM
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doniki(z5/6 NE Ohio)

The Blue Atlas Cedars are simply NOT hardy in zone 5 or colder zone 6. They may thrive and persist for a while, but eventually they will succumb to the cold. It seems that every nursery in NE OH sells them and there are a few that dot the landscape that have endured temps around and below -10f, but if we get a -20F like in 1994, they will be toast... Cedrus libani stenocoma is hardy to about -25F with some needle loss. It has proved itself in the Cleveland and Cincinnati areas during the 1994 winter of -20F. There is a real nice one (50ft or greater) up at Hidden Lakes by Ken, which is a solid zone 5. Also, there are some Cedrus deodara that are hardy in the -20F range, such as Eisregen and Karl Fuchs (which possess a blue, much like the blue atlas).

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 9:40AM
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Now Im not entirely sure EXACTLY what zone I'm in, who really does?
But in all reality its probably a 5b. This tree here has been growing for about 20 years, my girlfriends father planted it.
Then just last year, which certainly wasn't a bad winter by any means, the whole central leader died out of it. ??
I'll get another picture this weekend of post damage. So the tree is still there, I kind of wonder what is going to happen to it as the lower branches are still growing like a weed.
Kind of a shame because it was such a beauty, but also a lesson for me.... grow cedrus and get 20 years out of it!


    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 11:42AM
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Oh Yah!

Great photo Nate. Fantastic!


    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 12:12PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Not to rain on the parade, and maybe it used to look better, but out here that example would be considered a poor, scruffy specimen--just to illustrate that it does not necessarily demonstrate that the tree is really successful there. Since the lawn looks pretty lush maybe something has been put on it that is damaging the tree, such as an extra strong fertilizer and/or a lawn herbicide.

At a local institute it was found that dichlobenil damaged Atlas cedars, their foliage going partly yellow. So, these may react visibly to at least some herbicides that other kinds of trees might not.

It is certainly true that a healthy blue Atlas cedar is so striking that a 10 or 20 year rotation may be considered worthwhile indulging in--although there is the problem of disposing of a fairly big carcass each time it freezes out.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 2:01PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

micro climate says it all ...

the city is high density .. with cement and brick and asphalt that retains heat ... the temp might go down to zero for a minute or two ... but it might not stay there ... and in your garden... it might be totally enclosed on all sides with mature trees... and wind is blocked by the houses.. etc ... and still be considered zone 5... i grew up in the city ...

then i move out to a rural setting ... still zone 5 ... not nearly 20% of the cement and asphalt ... no retained heat ... mile upon mile of corn field.. then a nice little subdivision ... the wind howls.. at ground level for 20 miles before it gets to me ... plus the fact that i have a monster valley of about 8 feet... cold pools there.. unlike flat suburbia .... and now being on 5 acres... even a few big conifers are not much of a wind break ...

my point.. if i have one.. lol ... zone is a suggestion ... it is simply a minimum temp ... there are about a thousand other variables to determine what your garden is ... heck it could be zone 5 in one corner.. and zone 7 on the south side of the house ... we actually could winter over canna in the ground in zone 5... if they were planted against the house where the brick chimney came from the basement .... so we had 2 square feet of zone 7.. go figure ... lol

good luck


    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 10:10AM
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livingfossil(6a Dayton OH)

Hey Ken, good suggestions and comments. Yes, I planted by Cedrus deodara on my South Wall of the house, rather close to the chimney actually. It is for sure the warmest part of the yard!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 1:06PM
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Very true. But minimum temperatures are still minimum temps that can still be the deciding factor.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 3:31PM
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aspen0(z5 MI)

To say no cedar can live in z5 or 4 is silly. My parents have a big old cedar in their zone 4.9 garden. It isn't an atlas cedar, but it is a cedar (not a thuja, arborvitae, or anything else mistakenly called cedar either, this is a cedrus, but I don't know the variety). It was there when they built their house 30 years ago, out in the woods.

Anyways, a nursery here in lower michigan (solid z5) has a few weeping atlas cedars for sale. I want one so bad. They say they overwintered them here with protection... I need to find out what type of protection. I figure I can give it a southern exposure, and make a big coldframe thing out of rigid house insulation to run out and cover it with when it gets really cold (like a giant rose cover). An upright atlas cedar you couldn't do that with, but a weeping atlas cedar... it should be possible.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 5:28PM
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Mike Larkin

I picked up a blue atlas cedar last fall for half price.

Its funny why a garden center would sell if in your area if it could not live. Return and suggest that this was not a good tree for your area
But the more important issue yet discussed is that it gets very large, and would not fit on a lot that is small.
Surely it will take many years, but these tree are not for small yards. In time the tree in the photo above will more than double in size.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 7:23PM
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beng(z6 western MD)

That looks similar to at least a dozen declining BA cedars at the VA State Arb (z6) -- tops declining & gradual needledrop in the top -- almost like root damage/disease. These were mostly 50-70' tall, tho, so lived ~40 yrs at least. Unfortunately I don't know & haven't heard what the cause is.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 9:02PM
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ademink(z5a-5b Indianapolis)

I'm in year three w/ my two weeping BACs and we had an evil winter. So far, so good! Indy has been rezoned to a z6 but I think it's definitely marginal. My backyard seems to be a solid 6 microclimate though b/c we're in the city, privacy fencing, mature trees, very large pond, etc.

Since my two WBACs were only 35 bucks a piece, my theory is even if they die, they were stunning annuals! :)

By the way, funny posts, ken (as usual lol)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 11:54PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

I have worked in our local for several years. People come in all the time and want out of zone conifers. If you don't sell them they will go where they can buy. Bottom line is they just want it.
Micro climate and correct placement will be the deciding factor as to whether a zone 6 conifer will survive in a zone 5 placement.
Ken is right on all in his post.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 1:27AM
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Now that I have your attention, I planted a perfectly shaped 6' blue atlas 3 years ago. It's doing great, especially after my cat Jackie of 18 years died and I planted her under the new tree. Wow what growth! Then the following year my second cat Pony of 20 years died and I planted her 2 feet deep oposite of Jackie. That tree is in heaven! My question, how long will my cats provide nutrients before I should start feeding on a regular basis (or should I feed at all), as I am currently all out of cats! My Boston Terrier has another 5 or 6 years left in em'! Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 8:05PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

If your tree starts getting chlorotic, the neighborhood cats aren't going to start disappearing, are they? Unfortunately, I have no idea of the N-P-K rating of carbon based life forms. I am pretty sure, however, that your micronutrients should be good for quite some time.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 9:01PM
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Wow, the tree just may decide to go out looking for stray cats at night (picturing a bad horror movie. Sorry, that just struck me as a bit humorous.) LOL!

I have a weeping Blue Atlas Cedar going on 6 years now, and never any problems. It displays good growth each year. I will have to post a pic. Our landscaper planted it less than 10 feet from the corner of our house though, so I usually have to get out there and trim it up so it doesn't get monstrous on us. I really don't fertilize it at all, only the first year it was planted. So I can't really even say what the secret is. But they must like something in our clay soil.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 9:34PM
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"Wow, the tree just may decide to go out looking for stray cats at night"

If it does, I'll have to get one! Suffering from a plague of neighbours' cats (6 of them) killing all the birds in the garden . . .


    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 7:04AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

It seems like a lot of zone 6/7 plants are often labeled as "zone 5" that really are almost seems like Zone 5 is some magical location and plants that survive there market better.

Just a few plants that are really zone 6/7 that I've seen rated to "5" in some catalogs:

Paulowina tomentosa
Cedrus deodara
Cedrus atlantica
Acer buergerianum
Lagerstroemia (some do OK in z 5)
Wisteria (also can be done but not easily)
Rhapidophyllum hystrix (needle palm)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 9:56AM
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