A large number of homeowners prefer blue spruce trees for their garden landscapes. These plants are quite eye-catching, with popular varieties including the Baby Blue Spruce and the Fat Albert. This article will explore the distinct characteristics of each variety.
|Baby Blue||Fat Albert|
|Name||Picea pungens Baby Blue||Picea pungens Fat Albert|
|Mature height||50 ft||30 ft|
|Mature width||15 ft||15 ft|
|Light exposure||full sun||full sun|
|Soil||moist, drained||moist, drained|
|Watering||1 time per week in a drought||1 time per week in a drought|
|Pests||insects, mites||insects, mites|
Their shapes set them apart
The primary distinction between these two spruce varieties lies in their shapes. The Baby Blue Spruce is characterized by its conical form, which is a common feature of spruces. In contrast, the Fat Albert has a broader, less tall profile, often described as pyramidal. At times, specimens of the Fat Albert may exhibit equal width and height, making this variety notably thicker.
These shape differences dictate their respective landscaping uses. The Baby Blue, with its vertical emphasis, pairs well with spherical-shaped plants, enhancing its aesthetic appeal. Placing it next to taller trees might overshadow its unique charm.
Conversely, the Fat Albert excels in filling gaps between columnar or weeping trees. With consistent trimming, it can even attain a spherical form, offering versatility in garden design.
Their sizes vary significantly
The Fat Albert variety is notably shorter. At ten years old, it typically reaches a height of 15 feet (4.5 meters) and spans 8-10 feet (2.5-3 meters) in width.
In contrast, the Baby Blue Spruce grows more rapidly, resulting in a larger size. It often reaches or exceeds 20 feet (6 meters) in height.
When planting Baby Blue near buildings, its larger size and more substantial mass compared to Fat Albert should be considered. This aspect can be seen as a drawback since its larger size makes it more challenging to manage and shape through pruning.
Fat Albert Requires More Attention
One minor drawback of the Fat Albert variety is its need for slightly more care compared to Baby Blue. The denser a spruce tree is, the higher the likelihood of fungal diseases or pest infestations. Poor air circulation in a dense crown creates a conducive environment for infections.
Conversely, the Baby Blue Spruce has a less dense crown, allowing better air flow. This characteristic greatly diminishes the risk of fungal diseases and subsequently lowers its maintenance requirements.
Baby Blue is More Affordable
A significant distinction between the two spruce varieties discussed is their price.
Baby Blue is the more budget-friendly option, with prices ranging from $19 to $69. Its lower cost can be attributed to its propagation method; it’s grown from seeds, a process simpler than grafting.
Fat Albert falls in the mid-price range, with costs varying from $24 to $175. The top-end price typically gets you a mature plant in a 10-gallon pot.
The Baby Blue Eyes Spruce is Another Option
The Baby Blue Eyes Spruce, distinct from the previous two varieties, is also available for purchase and serves as an excellent alternative.
Originating from Oregon, this variety stands out among other blue spruces for its slower growth rate and consequently smaller size.
Annually, it grows approximately 7 inches (17 cm) and after a decade, it typically reaches a maximum height of 6 feet (1.9 meters) and a width of 3 feet (90 cm).
Its compact stature makes the Baby Blue Eyes Spruce ideal for smaller gardens, and it can be planted relatively close to driveways without issues.
Like other Colorado Blue Spruces, it features blue needles. A unique trait of this variety is its denser bud formation, which contributes to a fuller appearance.
Despite any perceived shortcomings, the Baby Blue Eyes Spruce is a superb substitute for Fat Albert and Baby Blue, especially for those seeking a more compact plant that still offers attractive shape and color.
The Baby Blue Spruce and the Fat Albert Spruce, while having their distinct characteristics, also share several similarities:
- Species Origin: Both the Baby Blue and Fat Albert are cultivars of the Blue Spruce (Picea pungens), a species native to the Rocky Mountains of the United States. This shared origin contributes to some of their common traits.
- Foliage Color: A notable similarity is their striking blue-tinged foliage. This distinctive coloration is a hallmark of the Blue Spruce species, making both these varieties popular for their aesthetic appeal in landscaping.
- Cold Hardiness: Both varieties are well-suited for colder climates. They are hardy and can tolerate low temperatures, a trait inherited from their high-altitude, mountainous origins.
- Longevity and Perennial Nature: As with most spruce varieties, both Baby Blue and Fat Albert are long-lived and perennial, offering a lasting presence in any landscape where they are planted.
- Evergreen Characteristic: They are evergreen trees, maintaining their foliage throughout the year. This trait makes them a constant visual feature in gardens regardless of the season.
Understanding these similarities helps in appreciating why both the Baby Blue and Fat Albert spruces are valued in horticulture and landscaping, despite their individual differences.