Virtues: We love ‘Fat Albert’ spruce (Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’) for its short, wide stature and its blue needles. It is a drought- and deer-tolerant tree that can fit into small gardens. It provides great winter interest and serves as a versatile backdrop for shrubs and perennials in other seasons. Provides good shelter for birds.
Common name: ‘Fat Albert’ spruce, ‘Fat Albert’ Colorado spruce, ‘Fat Albert’ blue spruce
Botanical name: Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’
Foliage: Silver-blue needles.
Habit: Slow-growing, pyramidal evergreen tree typically 10 to 15 feet tall and 7 to 10 feet wide. Its short, stout shape earned it the name ‘Fat Albert’, as it has a similar physique as that of the cartoon character. Young trees can look very round. Branches start close to ground level and are dense.
Season: Year-round, for foliage. Particularly effective and admired in winter.
Origin: Introduced by Iseli Nursery in the late 1970s. It was first discovered growing in a filed with other blue spruce, a product of natural crossing. Picea pungens is native to streambanks in the central Rocky Mountains and into the Southwest.
Cultivation: Prefers fertile, moist soil but will tolerate average soil and drought (once established). Needs good drainage. Grow in full sun. USDA Zones 3–7.
Image courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder
Add more year-round interest to your garden with the design tips and recommended evergreens in Gardening With Conifers by Adrian Bloom.
Keep all your trees and shrubs in perfect shape with The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
Choose the right trees and shrubs for your garden with Continuous Color: A Month-by-Month Guide to Shrubs and Small Trees for the Continuous Bloom Garden.