Cedrus atlantica Glauca

The Blue Cedar is probably the most dramatic and striking of all blue conifers.
A winner of both the First Class Certificate in 1972 and the Award of Garden Merit in 2002.
it is both quick growing and sparsely furnished when young but thickens out with time.
This is another superb subject for specimen and parkland planting where its form can be best appreciated.
Its silvery blue foliage is very attractive but if it suffers stress during the establishment phase after planting it can loose its leaves.
This is alarming for an evergreen plant but it is fairly tough and usually reflushes the following spring.
It thrives on most soils but doesn’t appreciate waterlogged ground.
It is often seen planted too close to buildings and I think this is because it is bought my many as a tiny plant from a garden centre. Be sure not to let its initial size mislead you, it needs to be situated at least twenty metres away from a building for best long term effect! As with most trees with foliage different to the normal green, it immediately draws the eye to provide marvellous contrast within a landscape.
Mature height: 20m+
Mature spread 7-12m

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

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 tall and 40 feet 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 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.

Blue Atlas Cedar Tree Information

Blue atlas cedar is a coniferous evergreen. Its scientific name is Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’. Originally introduced into the United States fro Europe in 1845, Blue atlas cedar is a true cedar, unlike red cedar, which is actually a type of juniper. It’s distinctively colored foliage makes it an interesting choice for planting as a specimen tree.

Growth Habits

Blue atlas cedars are slow growing, seldom adding over a foot of new growth in a year. They grow well from USDA hardiness zones 6 through 9. The tree tends to spread and needs considerable room to grow properly. Cold weather can cause winter needle burn, although well established cedars usually recover well.


The leaves of the blue atlas cedar are sprays of blueish-green to silver blue needles no more than 2 inches in length and remain on the tree throughout the year. The male flowers are 2-3 inches long and form on the lower parts of the plant. Larger, purplish, female flowers grow in the top branches, eventually forming dry, scaled cones, between 3-6 inches long, which conceal tiny seeds. The branches of the tree tend to droop, slightly. The bark is brown and smooth, eventually forming a scaly, plate-like surface.


The tree has a spreading, open pyramidal form and can become very massive for a conifer. The average height is between 40 and 60 feet with a maximum width of around 40 feet. The trunk of the tree usually remains straight with branches radiating laterally. Older trees tend to become flat-topped.


Blue atlas cedars grow best in full sun or partial shade. Soil conditions can be clay, loamy or sandy as long as they are well-draining. The tree can be difficult to transplant and should be started from container-grown plants. Protect the blue atlas cedar from windy conditions, particularly when young. The tree looks best when the lower branches are not pruned and are allowed to grow out from the trunk. Somewhat rare, blue atlas cedar can be difficult to find in nurseries and garden centers and may be expensive.


Its interesting form, size and color make the blue atlas cedar a good choice for planting in residential settings such as large lawns and parks. The tree is relatively tolerant of pollution and can handle urban environments.

Atlas Cedar

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Atlas Cedar
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Leaf of Atlas Cedar
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Blue Atlas Cedar
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Scientific Name: Cedrus atlantica (formerly C. libani spp. atlantica)
Other Common Names: n/a

Foliage: Needled Evergreen
Height: 40-60 feet
Spread: 30-40 feet
Shape: Wide pyramidal
Growth Characteristics: Slow- to moderate-growing

The Atlas Cedar, native to North Africa, is a beautifully irregular, wide pyramidal tree that makes an excellent specimen. The most common type planted is the Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’) which has stunning silvery-blue needles. Needles are 3/4 to 1 inch in length. The silhouette is wide and open.

Plant Needs
Zone: 7-10
Light: Full sun to partial shade
Moisture: Tolerates drought, wind and heat in deeper soils
Soil Type: Prefers moist, acid, well-drained soil, but tolerates other soil types

Fertilize with formulations that promote woody, strong growth rather than excessive foliar growth. Pruning longer branches when the tree is young can help it resist heavy snowfalls later in life. Multiple leaders may also have to pruned out. Best planted in large properties.

Can be affected by weevils, borers, root rot, and sapsuckers. Atlas cedar is not particularly cold hardy, but is often sold in marginal climates. As a result, cold damage can be a problem.

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