Blue Spruce owners may be shocked when their Blue Spruce doesn’t turn out as blue as they wanted it to be. The Blue Spruce is a beautiful tree that is an excellent addition to a garden. The blue tint on their needles is something greatly sought after.
To make blue spruces “bluer,” plant them in a sunny spot and keep them healthy. Blue spruces lose their blue hue mainly due to insufficient sunlight where it’s planted. Blue spruces also lose blueness due to exposure, a loss of the needle wax, overwatering, disease, pests, or sickness.
Other than lack of sunlight, there are several other reasons why a Blue Spruce may not be as blue as others. In addition, different methods can help make a Spruce tree bluer.
What Makes a Blue Spruce Blue?
The blue color on the needles is caused by a wax coating (called Epicuticular wax). This wax coats the spruce’s needles and reflects sunlight, causing the tree to appear a particular shade of blue.
The wax on a Blue Spruce also protects the needles from harsh weather conditions. But, the wax can also deteriorate while protecting the tree, and this will cause the tree to lose its blue pigment. Luckily, the wax can regenerate. We need to wait a little while for the wax to regenerate.
How Do You Keep Blue Spruce Trees Blue?
Blue Spruce trees thrive on sunlight because they need the sun for photosynthesis. The process causes the blue pigment on the wax to become more concentrated. Plant the tree where it will capture the most sunlight, and keep it healthy to keep it blue.
Protect the trees from harsh weather, winds, and temperature changes. It may be a sturdy tree that can withstand most conditions, but the wax coating will fade easier the more exposed it is. Consider creating a wind barrier using other plants to retain the tree’s blue color.
The color change in a Blue Spruce Tree is quite normal, but there are ways to keep the color from fading to a minimum. A good way is to position the tree where it can get plenty of sunlight. Pollutants in the air tend to damage the blue wax coating of the Blue Spruce and will cause the tree to look less blue.
Why is my Blue Spruce Tree Not Blue?
A Blue Spruce will appear not to be blue because the wax coating has thinned or deteriorated due to sustained damage, usually caused by the environment or insufficient sunlight. If we notice a healthy Blue Spruce isn’t blue, it might be a different variety of trees.
Here are some common reasons that blue spruce won’t be blue.
- We got a different variety of spruce or a different shade of blue spruce.
- The tree was damaged or unhealthy.
- Pesticides can cause blue spruce to be less blue (or even green).
- Fungal diseases (usually in the roots) can leave spruce unhealthy and change color.
- Insects can damage the tree, causing the color to change.
- Blue spruce trees can also lose blueness if planted in the wrong climate or environment or if it gets insufficient sunlight.
We got a different variety of spruce or a different shade of blue spruce.
Some Blue Spruces come in different colors. So, ours might be more silver or green. Other Blue Spruce trees even come in red!
The tree was damaged or unhealthy.
Blue spruces only stay that brilliant blue if they’re healthy. The blueness will fade or even change colors if they get damaged or become unhealthy.
If we’re fond of using pesticides in the garden, especially on the Blue Spruce, it can also cause the needles to turn green instead. In addition, Blue Spruces also turn green over time because their ability to create the wax coating slows down as they age.
Fungal diseases that attack a Blue Spruce may also damage the blue hue of the tree. There are fungal diseases that attack the needles directly, but most will usually attack the roots, and that can still cause discoloration on the trees.
Insects can also damage and cause a tree to become sick. A sick tree will be unable to produce the wax at a faster rate.
Blue spruce trees can also lose blueness if planted in the wrong climate or environment or if it gets insufficient sunlight.
Consider where you live or plan on growing the Blue Spruce tree. The tree tends to struggle to create the blue coat if they live in warmer climates. So, if geography is a problem, consider a different tree.
But, a Blue Spruce can grow in warmer temperatures if they take root in clay-based soils.
But before jumping to conclusions, it is also possible that we are not caring for the tree properly. This can be a hard truth to acknowledge, but doing so is important if we want our blue spruce to stay blue.
For example, if the Blue Spruce doesn’t have sufficient water or other nutrients, it will not be able to create the blue wax.
Does Topping or Trimming a Blue Spruce Help Keep It Blue?
Topping or trimming a Blue Spruce Tree does not affect how blue it will appear. However, we can cut off diseased or infected branches (or parts of the tree) off a Blue Spruce tree. Doing this properly will help the tree stay healthy, prevent it from losing blueness, and keep the tree blue.
Some fungi or tree diseases may affect the wax coating of a tree. We can eliminate the parts with clear disease signs for an easy fix. As long as the tree isn’t sick from the roots, it’s possible to keep a Spruce tree flourishing with blue needles.
Aside from cutting away infected parts of the tree, topping and trimming are great ways to keep it at a desirable height. Remember, Blue Spruce trees can be tall if left alone to grow. Regular topping and trimming should do the trick if we want something shorter and more tameable.
These techniques will also make a garden look more “kept.” Having well-shaped Blue Spruce trees is always a pleasant sight. As the holidays draw near, we can even decorate and shape the trees as outdoor Christmas trees by using fairy or other lights.
Do Any Fertilizers Help Make A Blue Spruce More Blue?
There has yet to be proof that fertilizers help make the color bluer, but several have already claimed it works. However, fertilizing a blue spruce tree will help keep it healthy, which may help keep the tree blue that way.
Should we try it? Whether it works, adding fertilizers is usually a good idea for a tree’s health. It pumps extra nutrients into the soil, allowing the tree’s roots to suck up more nutrients.
In addition, it will possibly help increase the speed of the recovery of the wax coating on the tree. So, it’s an experiment we should try.
Does More Watering Help Your Blue Spruce Tree Become More Blue?
While watering blue spruce when needed does help keep the tree healthy, overwatering may cause problems. Overwatering blue spruce may lead to root rot. Instead of blue needles, we might end up with wilted brown needles and a dead tree.
If we want to know when it’s safe to water a Spruce tree, we can always check the soil. If it’s dry, we should be able to give it water. For example, if a tree is three feet tall, water the Spruce tree with one gallon of water when the soil dries out.
Will a Blue Spruce Tree Regain Its Color on Its Own?
As long as the tree is healthy and has proper growing conditions, there is a good chance that it will turn (or return to) blue on its own. Over time the tree will be able to create new wax to coat the needles and then new needles. All it takes is a little time and patience with a healthy tree.
Occasionally all we need is time to allow the tree to regain its color. Waiting for it to recover might help the tree more than an owner who will experiment with multiple ways to fix this problem.
Overwatering, fertilizing, and pruning may cause more damage to the tree in the long run.
Before trying all these methods, it’s always best to observe the tree and its growing conditions before trying to help it.
Blue spruce trees are gorgeous. I love living in Utah, which has a ton of blue spruces. I’m bummed we replaced the blue spruce with quaking aspen as our state tree, but it’s a cool tree, too. I’m just partial to blue!
In any case, if you’re planning on planting blue spruce in your yard, ensure it’s in a sunny spot (full sun) and that the soil is appropriate (drains well). Then, use the right fertilizer. We discuss it in this article: What Is the Best Fertilizer for Blue Spruce Trees? So go give that a read next!
Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- Blue Spruce: Common Health Issues in the Landscape. (2020, April 9). Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment. https://ag.umass.edu/landscape/fact-sheets/blue-spruce-common-health-issues-in-landscape
- DeAngelis, Z. (2021, November 29). 6 Simple Steps To Make Your Blue Spruce Tree More Blue. Tree Journey. https://treejourney.com/simple-steps-to-making-your-blue-spruce-more-blue/
- Hodgson, L. (2017, August 22). How to Make your Blue Spruce Bluer! Laidback Gardener. https://laidbackgardener.blog/2017/08/23/laidback-gardener-tip-of-the-day-3/
- Long, Rebecca. (2022, July 15). How do you help a Blue Spruce that has needles that have turned brown and fallen off? – Cooperative Extension: Garden & Yard – University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Cooperative Extension: Garden & Yard. https://extension.umaine.edu/gardening/2022/07/15/blue-spruce-white-pine-weevil/
- Picea pungens Engelm. (n.d.). https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/misc/ag_654/volume_1/picea/pungens.htm
- Utah State University. (n.d.-b). Spruces | Forestry. USU. https://forestry.usu.edu/tree-identification/spruces
- Utah State University. (n.d.). Globosa Blue Spruce. USU. https://extension.usu.edu/botanicalcenter/trees-of-varga-arboretum/globosa-blue-spruce
- Utah State University. (n.d.-c). Stressed Blue Spruce. USU. https://forestry.usu.edu/ask-an-expert-new/stressed_bluespruce
- What’s Wrong with my Colorado Blue Spruce Tree? (n.d.). University of Maryland Extension. https://extension.umd.edu/resource/whats-wrong-my-colorado-blue-spruce-tree