Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar
If you are looking for a unique, eye-catching tree to grab attention in your landscape, consider planting a blue Atlas cedar. A needled evergreen native to the Atlas Mountains in northern Africa, its drooping, twisted branches are filled with whorls of powdery blue needles, producing only a few small cones in the springtime. It can be trained and shaped as it grows and can be molded into cone, oval, cylinder, or “weeping” shapes.
The blue Atlas cedar is part of the Pinaceae (pine) family as well as the Cedrus genus, and grows slowly (less than a foot a year), eventually reaching heigh maturity after ten or so years. It’s best planted in the spring or fall as a container plant (it does not take well to being transplanted) and is generally easy to care for, making it a true favorite of landscape architects and gardeners alike.
The Blue Atlas cedar is a stately and majestic evergreen with a strong, vertical trunk and open, almost horizontal limbs. With its stiff, blue-green needles, it makes an exceptional specimen tree for big backyards. Blue Atlas cedar care starts with selecting an appropriate planting location. If you decide to plant a Blue Atlas cedar, give it plenty of room to spread out. The trees don’t thrive in restricted space.
They are also most attractive if they have sufficient room for their branches to fully extend and if you don’t remove their lower branches. Plant these cedars in the sun or in partial shade. They thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 8. In California or Florida, they can also be planted in zone 9. The trees grow fast at first and then slower as they age. Select a growing site sufficiently large for the tree to get to 60 feet (18.5 m.) tall and 40 feet (12 m.) wide.
Nurseries create weeping Blue Atlas cedar trees by grafting the ‘Glauca Pendula’ cultivar onto the Cedrus atlantica species rootstock. While weeping Blue Atlas cedars have the same powdery blue-green needles as upright Blue Atlas, the branches on the weeping cultivars droop unless you tie them up on stakes.
Planting a weeping Blue Atlas cedar, with its drooping, twisted branches, gives you an unusual and spectacular specimen tree. This cultivar is likely to grow about 10 feet (3 m.) high and twice as wide, depending on how you decide to train it. Consider planting weeping Blue Atlas cedars in a rock garden. Rather than staking the branches to create a shape, you can allow them to mound and spread.
If you take care when planting, caring for a weeping Blue Atlas cedar should not be too difficult. The trees only require abundant irrigation the first year, and are drought tolerant when mature. Think through how you want to train the tree before you plant it. You’ll have to stake and train weeping Blue Atlas cedar trees from the time you plant them to create the form you have selected. For best results, try planting in full sun in well-draining, loamy soil. Feed weeping blue Atlas cedars in early spring with a balanced fertilizer.