If you garden in a cooler part of the country, you will almost certainly know the Colorado Spruce, also often called Blue Spruce. This beautiful evergreen tree is widely grown, often as a lawn specimen, but also as a screen or barrier tree, since its dense growth is a guarantee of privacy and protection form cold winds and drifting snow. This tree is variable in its growth, especially in the color of the needles that cluster around the stems. The very best trees have an intense, silver-blue coloring, making a dramatic statement, and bringing a bold presence to any garden. Seedling trees are very variable, so if you want good color, a named variety is the way to go. Of all the different varieties available, for a full-sized tree, nothing beats Hoop’s Blue Spruce. This wonderful tree is the ‘gold standard’ against which all other varieties are judged, and even with new forms coming into our gardens, it remains the plant to choose if you want the very best.
Hoop’s Blue Spruce grows into an upright tree, with a strong central stem and branches radiating horizontally outwards, all the way from the ground to the top. It has a unique narrow form, with the branches more closely packed than on other forms. The branches are covered with dense needles about one inch long, growing all around them in a full circle, and the needles are a remarkable rich, silver-blue color, making this tree really stand out in the garden. It does not produce flowers, but older trees develop attractive cones 3-4 inches long. The tree will grow steadily, adding 6 to 12 inches each year, and eventually growing to 30 feet in height. In time, it may reach perhaps 50 feet tall. The lowest branches will remain alive and healthy for many decades, so to enjoy that full sweep of branches, allow plenty of room for the spread of this tree, and plant at least 10 feet from walls, drives, paths, fences and other obstructions.
There are not many trees that will grow in the coldest parts of the country, which makes the Hoop’s Blue spruce very useful for gardeners in zones 2 to 5, where hardy trees are needed. This tree never suffers any winter damage, it is free of important pests or diseases, and even deer leave it alone. Easy to grow, this tree has a lot to offer all gardeners, with many uses. Plant one as a spectacular lawn specimen. Decorated with lights it makes the best Christmas tree in the world. Plant a row along either side your driveway for a majestic entrance. For a solid screen, space your trees 5 to 8-feet apart, and in a few years, you will have a beautiful barrier against both eyes and the weather.
Plant Hoop’s Blue Spruce in a sunny or partially-shade place anywhere in your garden, allowing enough space for it to spread sideways without crowding. This tough plant will grow in any kind of well-drained soil, from rocky sand to heavy clay. Water your new tree regularly, at least once a week during hot, dry weather. Once established it will only need a deep soaking during extended dry periods. In very cold, exposed locations, water young trees deeply just before the ground freezes in early winter. If you do find you need to trim your tree, do this in summer, once the new shoots have matured a little. You can trim parts with needles on them and new buds will develop by the time winter arrives. Do not cut branches into areas that have no needles on them, since branches will not re-sprout. Regular light-trimming is always better than occasional heavy trimming. When the tree is young, watch the top growing shoot. If you see a second shoot of similar size developing, cut off one of these stems, to keep a single trunk growing.
The Colorado spruce, Picea pungens, grows all through the Rocky Mountains, from Colorado and Montano to New Mexico and Arizona. Because it grows at high altitude, it is amazingly hardy. Winter temperatures of minus 50 degrees are common at these heights in the mountains, and this tree handles them with ease. Wherever you live, and however cold your winters are, Colorado spruce will grow well for you. Because this is a tree that grows naturally in rocky places, often with very little soil, it will also grow in almost any kind of soil. In summer the mountains are dry, and with little soil around its roots, this tree has to be drought resistant too. Even in the dryness of summer you will not need to worry about your trees. Seedlings of these trees vary considerably in the color of the foliage, and in the general form and shape of the tree. This variety was found as a seedling growing at Hoop’s Nursery in Germany. In 1958 it was introduced to the nursery trade by F.J. Grootendorst Nursery, in the plant-producing district of Boskoop, The Netherlands. It is officially called ‘Hoopsii’.
Although this is without doubt the best blue spruce available, it is always in short supply. This is because it is one of the most difficult trees to propagate. Stem pieces are taken from correctly identified trees, and then attached to the roots of seedling spruce. This can be relatively easy for many varieties, but growers know it is difficult for Hoop’s variety, so only the most skilled craftsperson can do it successfully. We have been very fortunate, and found such a skilled grower, but our stocks of this tree are limited, and wise gardeners are always on the look out for this plant. If you want to grow the very best blue spruce there is, then order now, as we will not have these beautiful plants in stock for very long.