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?

Cathy

I bought a "Bakeri" colorado spruce from a local nursery about 4 years ago (balled and burlap). It is doing extremely well in my zone 6b, which has clay soil that I amended. It is exposed to full sun and wind. I'm no expert, and have bought and planted 8 different dwarf evergreens in my small front and back yard. All species have done well so far the last 3-4 years they've been planted, with the exception of 2 very small potted Japanese cedars I bought 4 years ago (in March). They were doing pretty well until this year, the branches started turning rust color and dying. The nursery owner said they were dead from frost, but my research did reveal a disease that caused the die back. I cut off the diseased parts, what's left looks odd, but I'm waiting to see if they will resume growth next year. You can always find info on the internet.

Pam Clark

We've had a beautiful 'Baby Blue Eyes' for about 20 years now. It's planted near a creek with partial sun, in a bed among plants such as cotoneasters, lilies, and spirea. It does not seem to suffer from the same fungal problems that younger and larger Colorado spruces (in full sun) that we have do. This older 'Baby Blue Eyes' also still has a full skirt to the ground and is just the prettiest conifer we've ever had. Are the 'Baby Blue Eyes' resistant to the fungal diseases, or have we just been lucky? (We are Zone 4-5, central Iowa.) Thank you!

David Olszyk

I think you've been lucky. No claim of exceptional disease resistance from the originators.

Jeff

I'm looking for something that stays green, that grows 20 feet tall (max). They'll give me privacy. I got about 120 feet to cover.

David Olszyk

Hi Jeff, no woody plant anywhere will grow to a specific height and stop forever. All conifers will grow at a similar rate for many decades if not centuries. Maybe a vine?

Ronald Schlak

As far as disease resistance , in his book Special Conifers , vol. II , Fincham writes , it (Baby Blue Eyes ) seems to hold up well in the mid west

Wayne Zoppo

what fungicide should use to control rhizosphaera needle cast on baby blue eyes spruce / they say not to use daconil

David Olszyk

who is this "they" you speak of? ... a vendor who doesn't have Daconil™ in stock?

In all seriousness, there are parts of the world where the climate is such that Picea pungens simply doesn't work. If your local humidity is typically above 40%, fungal problems will happen with this species.

Lyla Raiford

I purchased a 'Baby Blue Eyes' spruce from Monrovia about 3 months ago and I live in Oklahoma. Presently I have not planted it but it will be in full sun; it has new growth since receiving it and looks great. We have humidity here but I'm hoping I can keep the fungus under control, I read an article by Barry Fugate that spruce doesn't do well here, I trust Daconil is the product to use.

Irina Moreno

I've planted 2 "Baby Blue Eyes" this year in May. Both took off very nicely and had a very healthy growth. Now, in the middle of September, one of them seems to be a little sad, some needles dried out and fell off the tree. I live in Colorado, trees planted in full sun. We don't have a lot of moisture in this area, but I water the trees regularly. Should I worry?

David Olszyk

yes, you should definitely worry. Spring is the absolute worst time to plant a conifer. It often takes several months for a tree to completely die. Transplanted conifers usually do best when they have 3 seasons of cool temperatures and adequate irrigation to grow a decent root system.

Irina Moreno

Is there anything that could be done at this time to prevent trees from dying, if at least one of them is indeed dying?

David Olszyk

I have found that in most cases, a tree will look completely fine for many months despite already being long dead. So once they begin to look a little off in color, odds are that they have been dead for a long time already.

Molly G

Looking for (well, thought I was...) a dwarf size silver conifer as part of a long-range landscape plan for an open area in front of a very large, wood sided garage as a backdrop. Fell in love with photos of Baby Blue Eyes and it seems to check off all my new, but limited knowledge, of what kind of conifer I should be looking for. Until I read your humidity/fungal comments above. Zone 5a, mountains of WV, 2,500 feet, yes, a lot of humidity throughout a good part of the year as we are in a long valley trapping in the moisture. Wrong choice? Better ideas? Or skip conifers completely? We are out on a mostly flat 35 acre working pasture that is green about 85% of the year. (Unless freshly mowed for hay or covered in snow.) New house is wheat yellow with white trim. Grays, whites, red and green look best for landscaping. Looking for a single "statement" tree in front of garage with year-round appeal. Oddly anything in orange/brown tones (i.e. fall color change) looks dull near house so very interested in a conifer (or?) there and other possible landscaping areas. Thoughts?

Ronald Schlak

Molly, check around your town for any other older blue spruces. If they have fungal problems it might be best to steer clear. How about an Abies concolor?

Molly G

Liking its description of drought and heat resistance as well as "few diseases or pests." thanks