Picea pungens 'Baby Blue Eyes' / Baby Blue Eyes Colorado spruce

Picea pungens 'Baby Blue Eyes' is a very dense, pyramidal, slow-growing selection of Colorado spruce with sky-blue foliage. Its dense form makes its strong blue color stand out very nicely. It is reported to be not as cold hardy as most plants in this species, reported to suffer winter die back in USDA Zone 3. After 10 years of growth, a mature plant will measure 5.5 feet (1.8 m) tall and 3 feet (1 m) wide, an annual growth rate of 6 to 8 inches (15 - 20 cm).

This cultivar originated as a seedling selected in 1972 by Verl Holden Nurseries, Silverton, Oregon, USA. Curiously, Holden patented (U.S. Plant Patent 5457 1985) the seedling under the peculiar name, "Baby Blueyes." This name never gained traction in the nursery trade, where it is universally seen listed as 'Baby Blue Eyes.'

Conifer enthusiasts should also be aware of a conifer in the market called Picea pungens Baby Blue®. These plants are seedlings of Picea pungens 'Glauca' and as such, will all be slightly different from each other and not appropriate for cultivar status. Confusing that matter further is the fact that Picea pungens 'Glauca' has become a generic name for any Colorado Blue spruce. It's simply not possible that all P. pungens 'Glauca' originated from the same clone.

Picea pungens 'Baby Blue Eyes' — a mature specimen in an arboretum setting.
Photo by Sandra McLean Cutler
Picea pungens 'Baby Blue Eyes' at the Dawes Arboretum in Cincinnati, Ohio; seen during a 2004 ACS conference.
Photo by Ken Church
Picea pungens 'Baby Blue Eyes' in a private garden, planted in 2003. As can be seen the plant pushed 6 inches or more of new growth that year.
Photo by Ken Church
Picea pungens 'Baby Blue Eyes' in the Gotelli Collection at The US National Arboretum, Washington, DC, May 2006.
Photo by Dax Herbst

Comments

Ken O

Where can this be purchased and how does one know that it is a true Picea pungens 'Baby Blue Eyes'? What is the price average? Is there a Colorado blue Spruce species that Grows only to 10 ft tall and 10 ft wide after 10 yr and 15 tall max? Thanks in advance.
Ken

David Olszyk

Hi Ken. There is no such thing as a "max" size for these plants. They all grow at a similar rate for 50 years or so unless altered by pruning or a chain saw. With that, a plant that 10'x10' after 10 years will be 20'x20' after 20 years and so on.

Ken

Ok then... Does that rule apply to all miniatures? Example: Pinus parviflora 'Blue Angel' Plant,
"Average landscape size: Slow growing; reaches 7 to 8 ft. tall, 3 to 4 ft. wide." OR Cryptomeria japonica 'Black Dragon' , Average landscape size: Slowly reaches 6 to 7 ft. tall, 3 to 4 ft. wide; ultimately 10 ft. tall. Does this mean 'ultimately' really does not mean it won't grow taller, so it just means it's not really a miniature, just a sales job to get you to buy. I am trying not to get cynical. I just want to get a tree that will fit my small yard landscape and not end up as a chopped off 20 inch wide stump with small branches. (chainsaw) So, does one simply prune the tree for decades to keep it small like a bonzi and it works because a "miniature" conifer is just a slow grower that does not have to be pruned as frequently? Thanks again for your answer, since I am obviously clueless and would like to become better informed. (A good book would help.) I absolutely love trees, nature and landscaping entirely. If you saw my property, you would know and understand my frustration.. Thanks

David Olszyk

Hi Ken, look at the terms dwarf and miniature in terms of growth rate rather than size. If it grows an inch or less a year, it's a miniature. From there, just do the math. At an inch per year, it'll take forever to get to 50' tall.

BTW, 'Blue Angel' is definitely not a miniature. I've seen them grow 2' per year. The thing with parvs is that the growers to a lot of candeling to them when they're young to make the dense and bushy. Most homeowners don't continue the practice and complain when their cute little tree is suddenly big, massive and rangy.

Ronald Schlak

Gardening With Conifers - Adrian Bloom is one of my favs
review growth rates on this site ...the plants you mentioned are not miniatures
at some point plants stop or slow growth
there will be lots of plants to fit your garden,,Ron

Ken Overdorf

David and Ron,
I want to thank you both for your replies. Perhaps my answer is to find a very good reference/ information book on care and pruning of conifers in Zone 6. I will look for "Gardening With Conifers" - Adrian Bloom. Thanks Ron. For now to replace my dead Serbian Spruce A Picea pungens 'Baby Blue Eyes' should be a good choice for my situation, right?? I was a member of the American Conifer Society, but let my membership expire. I will probably now renew. What is the easiest way??

David Olszyk

Hi Ken, it'll be great to have you back. The easiest way to renew your membership is to simply hit the link to join that you'll find on the home page. Take care and stay healthy!

Sharon

Thinking about a Bakeri Blue Spruce (picea pungens 'Bakeri') for a 20 ft diameter cul de sac. Do you think it will grow too large for this area?