Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Hardy Plants for Waterwise Landscapes

Picea pungens 
Colorado spruce

Picea pungens in the landscape (V. Lohr)

Plant form

Evergreen, coniferous, conical tree.


60-100 feet tall and 15-25 feet wide.  Dwarf and weeping cultivars are available.


Green to blue narrow needles, about 3/4 to 1 inch long, stiff and densely crowded on the stem.  Some may have a white coating.  Attractive all year, but whitish-blue color can be rubbed off by snow, ice, or fingers.


The papery cones are 3 to 4 inches long and yellowish in color.They are usually high in the tree.

Native area

Southwestern United States.

Water use

Moderately low.


Full sun.

Culture and Maintenance

Grows well in a wide range of soil types. No special maintenance required in the Inland Pacific Northwest. Colorado spruce trees may get Cooley spruce gall aphid, but they are not as susceptible to it as other spruces are. This insect causes the branch tips to swell and die, and these galls may be mistaken for small cones. Another insect, the spruce aphid, may be a problem in warmer areas.


USDA Zone 2.


Provides excellent shelter for small birds.


Named cultivars are typically selected for bluer color or special forms; these will be sold as grafted plants.  Unnamed trees are typically started from seeds, so these will be variable in color and form.


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