The mystery of Picea pungens 'Baby Blue'

madtripper(5/6 Guelph)June 17, 2007

Picked up a Baby Blue. Tag said height was 12 ft.

Googled to check out the facts. Found only one link. It turns out this is a seedling tree grown in Ontario. apparently, the parent produces nothing but good blue spruce from seed.

So I emailed them about the size. They said it grows to normal size.

If this is a seedling it should not be called 'Baby Blue', since each seedling would need to have a different name. Secondly, a name like "Baby" + a tag that says 12 ft is terribly misleading.

Lat week I was looking at a "neaon" (different post), which also seems like someones imagination rather than an accepted name.

Is this a common problem with Conifers.

Other than that it looks like a very nice tree.

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I have heard of "baby blue eyes" Colorado spruce. I don't know anything about any cultivar just called "baby blue" unless that just means a baby (very samll) tree of the blue spruce species.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 9:51PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Do not know what careless practices are occurring with stock grown and sold under these two particular names but in general seedlings of a cultivar grown as that plant are not especially rare in commercial horticulture, unfortunately.

The 12 ft. given by the one source may have been a 10 year height, it is also common to list these without including the "in 10 years" part. And such statements are always ballpark estimates, performance varies even within grafted cultivars, which can be influenced by vigor of individual seedling rootstock used and are definitely influenced by environmental conditions they are subjected to, both before and after purchase and planting. And trees do not stop growing until they die or are caused to die back, there is no universal mature height or topping out point where all propagations of a named selection come to a halt yet remain the same in appearance as they were up to that point. A 70-year-old dwarf or slow-growing selection can be quite a specimen.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 10:06AM
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Maybe it is the Baby Blue Eyes? I just saw one at our local nursery this morning and am SO tempted to get it. But I need to do some research to find out what size it will get, etc. before plunking down $80. They are gorgeous though, and I am wanting one for the front lawn. I am wondering if they keep that beautiful blue color (which appears to be only on the outside/new growth), or if the blue eventually turns green like the inside part of the tree until it gets more new growth. Anyone know?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 10:54AM
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Well, I have one of these. I am here near Winchester, VA so maybe my experience with it will be something like yours will be.

I understand that it is a largish semi-dwarf, meaning it will eventually get 30 feet tall, maybe eventually on good soils a little bigger. If so, It will take a very, very long time. I would estimate the growth as something like 6 to 8 inches per year. The color is good, but it does fade a bit over the winter. It does not have the color retention of Hoopsi, which is the other very blue cultivar I have. But during the summer the color is comparable to Hoopsi--maybe just a tad less striking, but the difference is small. Hoopsi is also closer to a full sized tree, ultimately 50 to 60 feet, which is a bit smaller than the species or the largest cultivars.

But it is a very pretty tree and grows rather dense, if that is what you want. Hoopsi is just a tad more open, but not nearly as open as the most beautiful blue spruce I have seen, which sometimes have the open kind of crown of the best Norway spruce with weeping branchlets. Hoopsi also tends to be on the narrow side also. Unfortunately, I have never been able to find the name of my favorite cultivars, if indeed, they are cultivars, and not just exceptionally blue and weeping individuals of the species.

Anyway, if you want a semi-dwarf blue spruce, I see no reason not to get the baby blue eyes. If you want something larger, consider Hoopsi and look up some others to see what they offer. There are so many lovely blue spruce varieties. I am not sure about your area, but here in Winchester, blue spruce do absolutely fabulously--I have never seen any problem with disease of any kind. We have moderately acid soils formed over limestone, and our summers tend to be rather dry, and it is typically rather windy also, which I think keeps down any kind of fungal diseases.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 9:04PM
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madtripper(5/6 Guelph)

Baby blue eyes is a different plant.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 10:46PM
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Baby Blue and Baby Blue Eyes are two totally different plants. The Baby Blue is a seed grown strain from Canada, the Baby Blue Eyes is a grafted selection from Orygun (a Verl Holden selection I believe....Silverton,OR). BUT....I have seen 5-7 year old Baby Blues, field grown, that you would swear were grafted plants based on size, uniformity and color. Do not know if ultimate size and shape is known on Baby Blue, it has not been around as long as Baby Blue Eyes.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 11:16PM
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If anyone knows anything specific about the growth form of this kind of blue spruce, I would be very interested. The name "baby blue" would have made me think it was a dwarf, but if it is of normal size, and especially if it might have a weeping habit, it would be something I am looking for.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 10:00AM
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I purchased a picea pungens "Baby Blue" last year. I live in Canada. My tag says full sun, unique foliage, great in garden borders, 12' tall x 9' wide (4mx3m). They are hardy to zone 3.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 2:27PM
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Well this is also interesting.... I was at the local nursery again to get another look at the 'Baby Blue Eyes' I was pondering, and next to it was something that looked almost identical (in shape, size, color, etc.), but it was called a 'Fat Albert'. Then, I stopped at home depot and saw the Fat Albert there (for about $20 less of course)! Does anyone have the Fat Albert, or ever see one? I am wondering how different they are from the Baby Blue's? As I said, they looked nearly identical -- at least at their current 4' size.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 11:35PM
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Not weeping inhabit...dence, more compact than Picea pungens spp. glauca??....pretty incredible for a seed strain. Puts Kaibab & Apache (seed strain from USA National Forests) too shame.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 11:36PM
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madtripper(5/6 Guelph)

Here is the web site the grower of Baby Blue:

And the email exchange with them:

since I don't know the size of tree you bought,I can only guess the 10 year ht. at about 2 to 3 meters. Ultimate ht. is the same as the large blue spruce you see growing at older homes.I am interested to know the distribution of our Baby blues and would appreciate knowing what part of the country you are in. Thanks-peter
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2007 8:32 AM
Subject: height of baby blue?

I have purchased one of your baby blue spruce. What is the 10 year height and the ultimate height?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 10:56PM
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I work for a nusery that is currently growing the 'Baby Blue' Spruce. Selling approx. 10 year trees at 12-14'. Purchased liners from West Montrose Farms in Canada. I understand the name to come from the color, not the size. Trees are supposed to mature at 30' tall, but haven't been growing long enough to know for sure. Also, Fat Albert is a different species, and is dwarf.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 11:21AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i wonder how different.. if at all .. than the Picea pungens 'Baby Blueyes'.. that i got from Stanley ....


    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 2:35PM
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Fat Albert's aren't dwarf. I have seen them over 25 feet tall and still growing at a rate of 1 foot a year. They were touted as the next best dwarf to Glauca Globosa. Usually grafted. Iseli and a few other nurseries root them.

Baby Blue is just what was posted above. Just a normal growing Blue Spruce selected with powder blue foliage. It retains it good colour year round and can be reliably considered uniform is growth. Nice plant but not outstanding and not dwarf. Just considered a nice landscape tree for those who don't want to buy a more expensive grafted form.

Baby Blueyes is a grafted selection out of Oregon. One of the biggest plants around is at the National Arboretum in Washington which I think is 18 feet or so and still growing over a foot a year. I have a few here and they grow easily 1 foot a year. Nice colour with a dense form. For growers, needs less staking, pruning and less time to fill out before being shipped off to market.

P.p.Neon. another superlative term given to a Blue Spruce. It is bright coloured. Comes from the U.S. and is carried or at least was originally carried in Canada by Mori Nurseries in Niagara-on-Lake. Nothing better than what isn't already out there. Must be grafted.

On another note. Those tags that give height and size are often those sizes by 10 years of age. Just another sales tactic to try and get you buy a "dwarf" sounding tree. Most garden centres are too cheap to buy real dwarfs because they are more expensive to buy in.

Do a little research before buying a "dwarf" conifer. If you can't find info on it. There are tons of folks in this forum that know a lot about conifers. Just post it.

Hope this clears up a bit of the confusion.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 3:41PM
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I just saw some Baby Blue Spruce at Walmart for $17 on sale. They are about 2 feet tall and as wide. The tag says 12 ft by 10 ft but the sticker on the pot said that it grows up to 40 feet. So the 12 ft height must be the "in 10 years" size.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 8:38PM
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