Looking for an alternative to the commonly used Blue, Norway, White, or Serbian spruce? White pine a little to tasty for our pesky antlered friends? Worried about the pest problems associated with our native hemlock? Why not give the under utilized Engelmann spruce a try? (I’ve never started a paragraph off with four consecutive questions. A new Art Laster record. My parents will be proud.) Picea Engelmanni is a zone 3 hardy conifer native to the rocky mountains and west. It can take the cold. Engelmann grows to 70’ not unlike the aforementioned conifers, but tends to stay a bit more narrow stretching to 15-20’. Being a stiff needled spruce, it is deer resistant. What impresses me most is the outstanding blue color these plants have. More often than not they have better color than Colorado blue spruce. I can’t attest to disease on these trees, but believe they will not be as susceptible to fungus problems as blues are.
Engelmann prefer full sun and well drained soil and there are no listed pests for this plant. It is a moderate grower about 8” a year. So if you are looking for a change in screening material or a stand alone conifer consider our western native Engelmann.
I have partial shade. My soil is a bit moist. I need an evergreen. What can I plant? Head scratching time. Consider Chaemacyparis Nootkatensis Glauca. Although this evergreen is not considered wet site tolerant, it can handle some moist conditions. It can also handle filtered light (not dense shade). These are typically difficult landscape conditions and this plant handles them admirably. The blue Alaskan cedar will get to 25’ with a spread of about 15’. The foliage is a bluish green and flat, being similar to an arborvitae. As its name implies it is extremely hardy. You can probably expect about 6” a year in growth. Nootkatensis glauca has exhibited deer “resistance” (not “proof”) and is a fairly graceful grower with pendulous branching. It can be used as a stand alone specimen or to screen. We believe it merits more consideration in the landscape.
Warmer temps are coming
The Plant Detectives Team.