Dwarf conifer substitution for blue spruce - Knowledgebase Question

Little Rock, AR
Avatar for wrenne
Question by wrenne
March 4, 2006
I had my heart set on one of the dwarf globe blue spruces after seeing one on your website. Although most of the heat zone maps I've seen indicate that they're a suitable plant(I'm in zone 7), I've been told by two gardening centers here that no spruce will do well in this area. Is this the case? I did read a response in your FAQ informing a Florida gardener that spruces can't survive the southern heat. If this is equally true in my area, what can you suggest as an attractive dwarf substitute for my rock garden? I do grow the mugo pines there. They suit the landscape beautifully and are thriving well.

Answer from NGA
March 4, 2006
Sadly, it is true that spruces do not do well in areas with hot humid summers like the ones you experience. In addition to checking the winter cold hardiness zone, you also need to be aware of the summer heat tolerance of plants. The spruces for instance do better in New England or the Pacific Northwest where summers are cool. You might be able to grow a small juniper such as J. procumbens Nana instead if you need a blue toned needled evergreen, or if you prefer a more formal shape you might be able to use a small cultivar of boxwood and clip it to be a rounded ball or even to a conical shape depending on the variety you plant. Your local professional nurserymen should be able to show you plants that do well in your local area. I hope this helps in your selection process.

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