Blue Atlas Cedars: Caring For A Blue Atlas Cedar In The Garden

atlas blue
atlas blue
(Image credit: Afonskaya)

The Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) is a true cedar that takes its name from the Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa, its native range. Blue Atlas (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’) is among the most popular cedar cultivars in this country, with its beautiful powdery blue needles. The weeping version, ‘Glauca Pendula,’ can be trained to grow like a vast umbrella of tree limbs. Read on for more information about Blue Atlas cedar trees and care.

Blue Atlas Cedar Care

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 m.) tall and 40 feet (12 m.) wide.

Caring for Weeping Blue Atlas Cedars

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.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.