A huge number of homeowners choose blue spruce for their gardens. In fact, this plant looks fantastic; some of the best varieties are Baby Blue Spruce and Fat Albert.
Although at first glance, they seem similar, these spruces are different. So what are the differences between them, and what are their pros and cons?
|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|
They have a different shape
The first thing that distinguishes these two spruces is the shape.
Baby Blue has a conical shape typical of spruce trees growing in the forest. Young branches at the top of the tree stretch upwards, so the plant looks elongated and not too dense.
Fat Albert is broader and less tall. Its shape can be called pyramidal. Sometimes trees of this variety can be the same width and height. Also, this variety is thicker.
Due to the difference in shape, these varieties are used in different ways.
Baby blue is perfect as a vertical accent in combination with other plants of a more spherical shape. Tall trees next to this spruce will not allow revealing its beauty.
On the other hand, Fat Albert is suitable for filling the free space between columnar or weeping trees. With regular pruning, it can have a spherical shape.
Their sizes are different
Fat Albert is lower. This is because the plant spends a lot of energy to grow in width.
At the age of ten, this spruce can be 15 feet (4.5 m) high. However, height usually ranges from 12-13 (3.5-4m) feet and sometimes does not exceed 10 feet (3m). With pruning, the size can be easily controlled at the desired height.
The width of this variety is 8-10 feet (2.5-3 m) after ten years of cultivation. The plant is wide enough, so do not plant it close to paths and driveways.
The Fat Albert variety was originated in Iseli’s nursery. After 25 years, this variety reached a height of 30 feet (9 m).
Baby Blue has a faster growth rate, so it is bigger compared to her counterpart.
This is because this variety is propagated by sowing seeds. As a result, we get spruce with the same growth rate as the common Colorado Blue Spruce.
The differences are the blue color, which, for some reason, is transmitted by generative reproduction and a more refined form.
The smallest size after the first ten years of life is 15 feet (4.5 m). However, it usually grows easily to 20 feet (6 m).
Baby Blue grows up to 50 feet or more under the right conditions and enough space in 2-3 decades.
This should be taken into account when planting Baby Blue close to home. It is more massive compared to Fat Albert, and this is its disadvantage. It will also be harder to control by pruning.
Fat Albert need more care
A small disadvantage of Fat Albert is that it requires a little more care than Baby Blue.
The fact is that the denser the spruce, the greater the risk that in the depths of the crown may develop fungal diseases or pests. In a dense crown, the air circulates poorly, and it is easier for infections to develop there.
In fact, this threat should not be underestimated. Spores of some fungi can develop quite quickly, especially in very humid weather.
As a result, in a few weeks, the plant can get quite severe damage and lose its beautiful appearance for a long time.
To avoid damage to the plant, you need 2-3 times a year to spray it with fungicides and pesticides (or Neem Oil as an alternative).
It would be best if you also thinned the spruce from time to time when it becomes too thick. Just remove a few branches evenly throughout the plant so that there are gaps between the branches through which air will move.
Also, do not forget to clean the plant from dry needles and dead branches. And do not leave plant debris under the tree.
There is Baby Blue Eyes Spruce
You can also find Baby Blue Eyes Spruce on sale. It is entirely different from the previous two and can be a great alternative to them.
This variety is found in Oregon, among other blue spruces. Its feature is a slow growth rate and, as a result, a small size.
In a year, this spruce grows by an average of 7 inches (17 cm). It will be no more than 6 feet (1.9 m) high and no more than 3 feet (90 cm) wide after ten years.
The compact size makes Baby Blue Eyes an ideal plant for planting in a small yard, and it can be grown relatively close to driveways.
The color of the needles of this variety is also blue, as in other Colorado Blue Spruces. The difference is that it forms more buds, and as a result, its shape is lusher.
The disadvantage of this variety is that it has problems when grown in cold climates. Garden centers mark this spruce for hardiness zone 3 or even 2.
However, there are many reviews that in zone 3, this variety can freeze during severe frosts and frosty winds. Therefore, most likely, gardeners living in this climate will not be able to grow it.
Despite the shortcomings, Baby Blue Eyes can be an excellent replacement for Fat Albert and Baby Blue. Because it is more compact and requires less space, and at the same time remains as beautiful in shape and color.
Baby Blue is less expensive
One of the most important differences between the spruces we compare today is the price.
The cheapest is Baby Blue. Its price starts at $ 19, and the highest price is $ 69. The lower cost is due to the fact that Baby Blue is propagated by seeds, which is easier than grafting.
In the middle is Fat Albert. Prices range from $ 24-175. For the highest price, you can buy an adult plant in a pot of 10 gallons.
The most expensive is the Baby Blue Eyes. Prices start at $ 24 and end at $ 189. For $ 24, you get a 2-year-old plant that is not yet ready for planting in the garden, so choose a little more expensive and older plants.
Although Baby Blue Ice is the cheapest spruce, this does not mean that it is the best option. As I mentioned, this spruce grows to considerable sizes and is not suitable for small to medium yards.
Fat Albert or Baby Blue Ice is best for most gardens. However, I would prefer Baby Blue Ice because it is a more compact and beautiful spruce. Besides, the price of these two is almost the same.
Are there any alternatives?
Yes, there are alternatives. Today there are a large number of beautiful varieties that can satisfy the tastes of all gardeners.
One of the best varieties of blue spruce is Hoopsii. The color of the needles of this spruce is the bluest. Only a few varieties have a similar color. However, the disadvantage of Hoopsii is its size; this variety grows quite large (30 feet).
Another variety that can be a substitute is Iseli Fastigiate. It also has a stunning blue color of needles, but the shape is columnar. Most branches are directed upwards, and it spreads slowly in width.
For those who love dwarf plants, the Filip’s Blue Compact variety is perfect. The annual growth of this spruce does not exceed 8 inches. At age 10, this spruce will be up to 7 feet tall.
If you want to plant blue spruce in your garden, be sure to read my guide to growing blue spruces to avoid common mistakes.