Plant Hardiness Zones 2-7
Trees bring a special kind of beauty to any property undergoing new garden planning or as an enhancement to your existing landscaping. By adding trees to your design you are bringing the primal feel of the forest right to your back yard. The presence of trees in a well landscaped property can also attract the local wildlife. Birds, butterflies and small animals like squirrels and chipmunks will spend hours exploring all of the wonderful nooks and crannies. Some will even make the trees on your property their permanent homes, ensuring their return time and time again over the years. If you are looking for the perfect blue spruce specimen to enhance your property, the Fat Albert is the ideal tree to fit your needs.
The Fat Albert variety was first introduced in the 1970s from the Iseli Nursery, and named after one of Bill Cosby’s famous television characters. This Colorado blue spruce variety is both tall and wide, making for a very imposing tree. It is a slow grower though, only gaining around 15 inches each year. At ten years the spruce will be a modest ten feet tall, but over the course of its lifespan it can easily reach an impressive 30 feet. It’s also not hard to see where its nickname came from – it has a truly imposing girth. A 15 foot diameter is not a difficult size for the blue spruce to obtain. Its conical uniform shape really does make it look fat!
New growth on the Fat Albert comes in with a luminous yellow-green color but over the course of the summer season it changes slowly to a silvery blue, which contrasts nicely with its reddish brown branches. The fine needles are very close together, as are as the tree’s branches; this creates extremely dense foliage. Small cones also form along the length of the branches, which provide a food source for local wildlife and attract various animals to the tree.
The Colorado blue spruce is an excellent choice for states in USDA plant hardiness zones 2 through 7. This tree does very well in the colder temperatures found in the northern states; it is capable of handling the harsh cold winters of Montana, where temperatures can sometimes fall well below -50° Fahrenheit with wind chill and massive snowfalls are a regular event. The Fat Albert is also tolerant of warmer, more humid locations found in Virginia or Oklahoma but is unable to thrive in the higher temperature zones. This particular species prefers full sun. Planting the Colorado blue spruce in a location where it can benefit from most of the day’s direct sunlight will help keep your tree happy and healthy. It is also very tolerant of all soil types, including rocky or sandy ground. However it does prefer rich, moist soils and you will find that these conditions aid the tree in growing to its full potential. As long as the blue spruce is not planted where water is unable to drain away, your tree will take from nature exactly what it needs and should thrive nicely. You will want to ensure that the tree receives adequate water during dry summer months.
Fat Albert is one of the few trees that are resistant to many of the more serious insect infestations or diseases. However, it is susceptible to certain insects like aphids, budworms and spider mites. As long as you check on your tree regularly, looking through the branches and in between needles, you should be able to prevent an infestation before it becomes a serious problem. One of the great things about the blue spruce’s ability to adapt to its environment and tolerate a variety of soil types, which also means that it is pretty low maintenance. Left to its natural growth pattern your tree will still maintain its conical shape, and grow proportionately in both height and width. Occasionally you may have to remove dead or dying branches but generally you won’t have to worry about regular pruning. However, if you want a well-manicured specimen, the blue spruce won’t mind you giving it a trim every once in a while. You will want to trim back new growth during the current season, and remove any branches that don’t seem to be growing the way that you want them to. While the tree is young you may also want to consider mulching to help retain moisture, but once it begins to gain in height – and especially when its branches grow close to the ground – regular mulching will not be necessary.
A Colorado blue spruce, especially the Fat Albert variety, is a stunning tree to add to larger properties where it will have room to grow. Not only does its rich silver blue coloring and dense branching add to its beauty, but its shape and overall size can help turn any garden into an impressive outdoor space. Why not get more than one and double your enjoyment?