Alternate for Blue Spruce, Globosa

junebugntn(7B)November 3, 2010

I would love to add three Blue Spruce Globosa to the foundation planting in front of my house, but the cost is more than I can handle...$99.00 each everywhere I've checked. Does anyone have a suggestion for a substitute?

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heathersgarden(6b/7a Mid TN)

I'm surprised that you can even find them for sale in our area, since picea tends to hate our summer heat and humidity... I could be wrong though:)

There are some blue forms of chamaecyparis, but it won't give the robust texture. Cryptomeria japonica Globosa Nana - Japanese Cedar would do well here too and has the overall globe shape. Junipers, like 'Grey Owl' are great here, blues abound but usually in a ferny shape. Juniper 'Blue Star' might just be perfect but it is pretty slow growing, so if you want a large size, it might end up costing the same.

Depending on how close you live to McMinnville, you might want to travel there for the incredible deals they have on landscaping shrubs. I've only been to Mary's, but I've heard the 100 or so other nurseries tend to carry more common varieties of shrubs and trees.

Good luck finding just the right thing!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 6:40PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

My experience with Picea pungens and Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star' is that the blue spruces handles our local conditions much better than the 'Blue Star's do. I rarely see older 'Blue Star's that I would consider in decent condition around here.

The 'Grey Owl' and similar cultivars are certainly more likely to handle our typical conditions, but as Heather pointed out, they will give a different appearance/form.

If you can visit McMinnville but aren't sure where to look, email me and I may be able to connect you with someone that can give you some really good guidance. I have a friend that is very familiar with may of the growers down there.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 9:36PM
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Thanks for the input Heather and Brandon. I have to admit that I am not a fan of Junipers although that is one of the plants that was used as a foundation plant around my house. I believe it might be the Blue Star. I'm trying to give it a chance and it does look better than when we moved in almost a year ago. I also don't think the Juniper or Cryptomeria would give the contrast I need in the bed. The open space is next to Spreading Yew. There are also Scarlet Carpet Roses and a Coral Bark Maple nearby. I actually made a decision to go with Dwarf Nandinas. Of course the price is reasonable, but I also think the texture and color may work well in the space. I had thought I would use a single specimen of the Globosa in another area, but not sure now if I should try, based on the comments.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 11:01PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

The average climate around your area shouldn't vary a lot from mine. Microclimate differences would probably account for more difference than anything. The Picea pungens (Colorado Blue Spruce) trees in my yard have performed well for many years. However, as Heather indicated, we are near the warmer/more humid edge of acceptable conditions.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 12:16AM
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heathersgarden(6b/7a Mid TN)

Brandon is completely right!

This is rather embarrassing - when I left my first comment I was typing picea (spruce), but thinking abies (fir)! Spruce does perform well here, and there are several specimens of blue spruce here in Spring Hill that look fine. It's often listed zone 2 - 7 or 2 - 8. But planting a fir of any kind would be cruel as it just would never survive.

Junebug, you're right that the other conifers wouldn't give the same contrast as the spruce, which is just fabulously chunky! I think I'm coming around to rooting for the spruce if it does well in your area. I'm thinking I might myself replace my blue stars with it too:)

I don't think as many folks are on our forum right now, so you're not getting as much advice you might otherwise. You may want to consider posting on the conifer forum, or researching to see if local botanical gardens grow this plant.

Best of luck! BTW, your plantings sound gorgeous! I started drooling at Coral Bark Maple:)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 8:02AM
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Thanks for the additional info. I'm pitifully obsessed by gardening, at least at a novice level. One thing I didn't mention in my description was that the area I was working on for the blue spruces is a corner. So I put a Dwarf Alberta Spruce in the corner next to the house and the dwarf nandinas will round out the corner, then flow into the spreading yew. I'm liking it! We will work on finding a place for the globosa in another spot and when I don't have so many bigger priorities in creating my yards foundations. Looking forward to adding the Colorado Blue Spruce for Christmas!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 11:09AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


I agree that most firs are harder to grow in typical conditions around here, but some can be grown successfully here. Abies firma is an example of a fir species that would likely perform satisfactorily even with our hot, humid conditions. In some areas, Abies fraseri (Fraser fir) might also do OK. It is native to the mountainous areas of Tennessee.


Keep a close eye out on your Dwarf Alberta Spruce. Spider mites will eventually find your tree, and, when they do, will try their best to suck every last drop of life from the poor thing. Dwarf Alberta Spruces are on my do-not-plant list because they are so prone to spider mite attack and I am too busy to have to have to deal with them. A good systemic pesticide, applied once per year at the correct time, would probably be sufficient in most cases, but that's just the type of thing I forget to do until it's too late and I see damage.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 7:14PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I just ran across some interesting records regarding firs in Tennessee:

The Tennessee champion White Fir (Abies concolor) is 100" in trunk-circumference, 40' high, and has a 40' spread. It seems to be doing well in Shelby Park in Nashville/Davidson County.

The champion Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri) is 108" in trunk-circumference, 83' high, and has a 38' spread. It's thriving outside the Carter Carter County Extension Office in Carter County.

These records are both from 2001, so they are hopefully even larger now.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 12:52AM
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Urrgggh! Spider mites...ok it may not make it for many years, like you I prefer plants that I do not have baby and pamper. But I'll try, when do I need to spray for spider mite? I'll check out the firs as alternatives to the Colorado Blue Spruce. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 6:46PM
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myrtleoak(z7 TN)

Honestly, I am amazed at the heat/humidity/high nighttime temperature tolerance of Blue Spruce. I have even seem these and Norway spruce growing in Atlanta! Still, I do often see young Blue spruces that are not yet established kick the bucket during hot summers, especially ones that are planted in the open in full sun. A north or east-facing side of the house might be a good suggestion. Fir...don't even try, unless it is China Fir or Douglas Fir (neither of which are true firs) or you live in Boone, NC. Old specimens are rare here and I don't see it happening if we continue having the summers we've been having. Honestly, I would recommend China Fir if you can still find it in the trade. I see older specimens here in Knoxville, some of which are fairly blue. Does anyone know if it is still available?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 9:15AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


Abies (especially most species) are a little more challenging, but some do seem to do well in this area. Instead of "don't even try", I'd say "give it a try". Many people successfully grow more challenging plants here. Proper placement can make a big difference.

Cunninghamia lanceolata, and a plethora of cultivars, are available through a number of nurseries (especially mail-order). Other species may be a little harder to find.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 5:14PM
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myrtleoak(z7 TN)

There is a decent white fir specimen near the Kingston Pike/Cumberland changeover in front of an old home converted to an office. Regarding growing challenging plants, this is apparently one of the few areas of the eastern US where redwoods have been successfully grown!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 12:14PM
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