Colorado Blue Spruce

flexwebberOctober 29, 2013

Has anyone ever had any success growing Colorado Blue Spruce in the shade? This area would only get maybe 1-2 hours of sun and maybe some dabbled sun later on in the day. Thanks.

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In less than full sun, your Colorado Blue Spruce is going to be somewhat "leggy", not as full as those grown with ideal lighting. I had one in an area that got early morning and late afternoon sun, dappled shade the rest of the day from tall, limbed-up oaks. It was healthy enough, but more scrawny than it should have been.

Our spruce had been one of those holiday gifts - a little tree in a pot with tiny bows. With young children and an active dog, we planted it in the only protected location we could find ... which was to be temporary. Years later, its roots were too tangled with those of its neighbor so we had to leave it ... until it began to encroach on our walkway and then, alas, it had to go.

Proper placement is so important.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 5:59PM
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I agree with above. I do have Montgomery, and then a regular tall one...both do well enough but NOTHING like in full sun. Try another conifer...hemlock, Norway spruce, I also have some crytomeria and it does well. also have picea fat albert and he does quite well. I think the blue ones need more sun...but they all like sun.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 7:20AM
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I cannot speak to Norway spruce or cryptomeria in shade, but will caution that hemlocks are susceptible to the hemlock woolly adelgid, a tiny sucking insect that settles in at the base of the needles and literally sucks the life out of the plant. Hemlocks throughout the northeast are in decline due to these insects. People wishing to preserve their hemlocks have to resort to an insecticide. A horticultural oil is least toxic to non-target species, but must be carefully timed for maximum effectiveness and on larger trees will likely require the services of a arborist with equipment to reach the upper part of the tree.

Weeping hemlocks are awesomely beautiful when mature, but they prefer some shade in our warmer climates, even USDA zone 7.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 5:47PM
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This is so true...I lost two rather large weeping Hemlocks due to the adelgid. This is with spraying Hort oil for years with no real good results. I now have Coles prostrate and so far it seems resistant...also have one with whiteish tips (can't remember name) that also seems to have been resistant.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 7:56AM
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Thanks for the responses. The one question I have is, if it is a wild tree, then doesn't it usually grow up in shade?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 2:48PM
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Are you asking if "wild" trees reseed in the shade?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 4:36PM
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Walking through a forest up north, we passed all the usual understory plants, both herbaceous and woody, that one expects to find, plus some deciduous tree saplings. Coming upon an open meadow that had grown up where trees had been harvested several years earlier (similar effect can happen from natural causes) and there we found about a half dozen young conifers growing, whereas I don't recall seeing a single conifer seedling growing in the dappled shade of the woodland.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 7:02PM
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probably depends if they are there in the first place or near by...I know that Taxus has reseeded in the shade

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 7:36PM
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Taxus (yew) is quite shade tolerant. Colorado Blue Spruce is a picea. Hemlock is tsuga. Different plants, different cultural requirements. Plants growing in less than ideal conditions, whether it be light, moisture, temperature or nutrient requirements, are more likely to be stressed and therefore more susceptible to pests or diseases.

Perhaps if the O.P. cares to share the purpose for the question, appropriate suggestions for alternative placement or alternative plants could be made.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 1:56AM
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Thanks for the responses. I planted it in an area that gets more sun. Still not full sun, but I will let you know how it goes. I have been able to grow trees that require full sun before in a decent amount of shade and had success. I'm going to closely monitor it and make sure it stays healthy.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 4:32AM
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Colorado blue spruce are not forest trees - they grow in very open conditions and really do need full sun to thrive. They also prefer some temperature, dry summers and cold winters and not an excessive amount of rain fall. It is very important to understand the conditions these trees experience in their native environments and attempt to duplicate that to achieve the best cultivated results.

With the exception of much of the west coast, conifers tend to grow in mixed forests, with a high percentage of deciduous trees, or in alpine conditions, which are distinctly NOT a forest :-) There are very few really shade tolerant conifers and most of them have been listed above. By and large, spruces of any kind are not.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 3:01PM
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