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Trees, Shrubs and Conifers: Weeping blue atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) in zone 5a

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Forum: Trees, Shrubs and ConifersReplies: 38, Views: 231
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DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 14, 2008
3:17 PM

Post #5257114

On a recent visit to North Carolina, I saw a fabulous weeping atlas cedar in the gardens at Biltmore. I just adored it, and was thrilled when I went to my local tree nursery this weekend and found one. It's been formed into a spiral trunk and is just gorgeous. My local tree nursery is quite large and I have bought numerous trees there, all of which have done very well. They are knowledgeable and helpful people, so I will ask them about this too, but wanted to get any DG input that I could get.

My concern is that I read (after buying it) that it's only hardy to zone 6. Does anyone have one of these in zone 5 and what do you do for winter protection? Any suggestions from folks with other conifers that are 1 zone off in hardiness, even if not this one, would also be helpful. Perhaps double wrappings of burlap? Heavy mulching? One thing I have done for other plants is buy super-cheap "arctic fleece" type fabric (usually sports teams that are less popular patterns and get sold off at 99 cents a yard). I wrap the plant in the fleece and use landscape pins to hold it at the bottom. I do this with roses but am worried about wrapping the cedar in it due to lack of light. Do you think this would be a help or hindrance. Any advice appreciated - I love this tree and don't want to lose it.

It will be planted about 6 feet from the house foundation in the front of the house that faces roughly west-southwest. There is a stone wall about 4 feet to its right when facing the house. I wondered if using rock mulch at its base (rather than my usual bark mulch) would hold more heat in the winter sun and might provide additional warming to the soil in that area.

Thanks,
Claire
treelover3
Minneapolis, MN
(Zone 5a)

July 14, 2008
4:10 PM

Post #5257402

This plant is really only reliable in zone 7 and warmer. A bad zone 6 winter will kill the plant. You will need to site the plant in a VERY protected spot in zone 5 to have any chance for the plant to survive for any length of time. Enjoy the plant while you can and don't be too upset when the inevitable happens.
Mike
tl
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 14, 2008
4:29 PM

Post #5257521

Thanks Mike. Ouch. It was $250. I hope I'll get a few years out of it. Maybe I should containerize it and bring it in for the winters.

Resin

Resin
Northumberland
United Kingdom
(Zone 9a)

July 14, 2008
4:46 PM

Post #5257618

It can even be killed by a severe winter in zone 7. To see large Atlas Cedars, you need to go to zone 8.

Resin
treelover3
Minneapolis, MN
(Zone 5a)

July 14, 2008
4:48 PM

Post #5257626

Claire,
If you recently purchased the plant, I would return the plant to the nursery for a refund. The nursery should know better than to stock a plant that is rated for 2 zones warmer than the growing zone they are in. Did you get a guarantee with the plant for one year from date of purchase? Even if you did, I would still return the plant for a refund or exchange it for a plant that has a chance of lasting more than a year or two. $250.00 is a lot to spend on a plant as an annual. (:o)

Cedrus libani var atlantica 'Glauca Pendula' is my dream tree and I understand your love for this tree.
Mike
tl
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 14, 2008
5:33 PM

Post #5257813

Yes, I purchased it on Saturday, and it does have the 1 year guarantee, like all their trees. I will be calling them tomorrow - I remember the sales associate who handled our purchase said his day off was Monday. I'll see what he says about it. I'd rather return it and get something else that is appropriate for our zone. I'm wondering what they had in mind with having it available - there is nothing close to zone 7 or 8 in Iowa. Some borderline zone 6 maybe in microclimate spots, but mostly we are 5a and 4b.

I had planned it as a centerpiece of a new miniature conifer garden for a specific area of my yard. I wanted to surround it with some other interesting coniferous forms and shapes, and some burgundy foliage shrubs. I love the way blue-green looks with burgundy.

Does anyone have any suggestions for an alternate weeping conifer that would be hardy for me and would have an interesting form? Preferably a blue-green one, but if not, I am open to other suggestions. I'm kinda bummed out about the whole thing, and irritated with the nursery for stocking it.

Thanks,
Claire
snapple45
Holland, OH
(Zone 5b)

July 14, 2008
5:54 PM

Post #5257924

You might consider a Cedrus deodora 'Eisregen'. While it doesn't weep or get as large as the Cedrus libani, it's a beautiful frosty blue and supposedly hardier. Mine was planted August 2007. It receives no protection from winds sweeping across the koi pond in front of it. There is disagreement about the hardiness of this cultivar. While one winter does not tell the story, it seems to be dong very well here at the moment.

Thumbnail by snapple45
Click the image for an enlarged view.

treelover3
Minneapolis, MN
(Zone 5a)

July 14, 2008
6:07 PM

Post #5257993

Juniperus scopulorum 'Tolleson's Blue Weeping' is a weeping juniper with bluish foliage, but the form is not anything like the weeping cedar. As far as form goes, there is nothing that will be similar to the weeping Cedrus.

I have a 'Tolleson's' and I love it. The 'Tolleson's' is hardy to zone 3 and during the summer has nice bluish foliage. There is also a green form of this plant so you want to be sure to get the blue weeping form.
Good luck,
Mike
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 14, 2008
6:52 PM

Post #5258238

These are both good ideas and beautiful conifers. The Cedrus deodora has a lovely color and an interesting shape. The branches seem distributed in an unusual way. I like things that are unusual. The Tolleson's has a lovely form and color also, and looks like it would certainly do well in my zone.

I will ask my tree nursery if they have either of these tomorrow when I call them, and perhaps I can exchange the atlas cedar for one of them, or they could order one for me. I'm very sad about the atlas but it's pointless if it is that sensitive to temperature. I know Iowa winters all too well...

I don't look forward to hefting it back into the pickup, but it seems the only sensible option.

thanks!
Claire

Resin

Resin
Northumberland
United Kingdom
(Zone 9a)

July 14, 2008
7:47 PM

Post #5258525

Spellcheck: deodAra
snapple45
Holland, OH
(Zone 5b)

July 14, 2008
8:12 PM

Post #5258652

Thank you!
davesnursery
Milford, DE

July 14, 2008
10:06 PM

Post #5259202

You might want to try Tsuga Canadensis West Coast Creeper. Dark green foliage but the weeping creeping habit is spectacular.

Dave
Weerobin
Saint Louis, MO
(Zone 6a)

July 15, 2008
1:06 AM

Post #5260034

I'm worried that the c deodora is no more hardy than the atlas cedar.
Another weeping option is chamaecyparis nootka pendula.
Very different habit, but I like it.

Resin

Resin
Northumberland
United Kingdom
(Zone 9a)

July 15, 2008
1:12 AM

Post #5260064

[quote]I'm worried that the c deodora is no more hardy than the atlas cedar[/quote]
Mostly, Cedrus deodara [note correct spelling!!] is if anything slightly less hardy than Atlas Cedar, but the selected origins like 'Eisregen' are distinctly hardier, tolerating temperatures down to about -28 to -30C. The other hardy cedar is Turkish Cedar Cedrus libani var. stenocoma, also hardy to at least -30C.

Resin
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 15, 2008
1:19 AM

Post #5260105

I like the Tsuga canadensis 'Sargentii' form. Definitely a possibility!
treelover3
Minneapolis, MN
(Zone 5a)

July 15, 2008
2:04 AM

Post #5260411

I would guess that the Tsuga canadensis West Coast Creeper that Dave spoke about is probably very nice, too. I have not heard of this cultivar before, but you may want to search Google images to see if you can find a pic of the plant. Since this is going to be a plant that is going to be around a while, you'll want to take your time deciding what to plant.
Good luck,
Mike
treelover3
Minneapolis, MN
(Zone 5a)

July 15, 2008
2:10 AM

Post #5260449

I did a search for the Tsuga canadensis 'West Coast Creeper' and I think that this plant is probably more prostrate than what you are looking for. I found one small picture and it looks like this plant has a habit similar to Microbiota decussata.
Mike
tl
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 15, 2008
2:33 AM

Post #5260594

I did the same google search but then just searched on Tsuga canadensis. I found this one which I rather like.

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://gardenwebs.net/Tsuga.canadensis.Sargentii.jpg&imgrefurl=http://gardenwebs.net/nurseries_pg1.htm&h=648&w=431&sz=152&hl=en&start=3&sig2=IIOQgSgc7QAGQlvAJ2ApfA&um=1&tbnid=gyKZsNBeAmzJoM:&tbnh=137&tbnw=91&ei=igt8SPvsK4aWigH_28VV&prev=/images%3Fq%3DTsuga%2Bcanadensis%2Bsargentii%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN

I also like the chamaecyparis nootka pendula.

It's good to see that I have some choices that are better for my zone. Now my problem is going to be deciding which one I want! Which one(s) would be best for training into an interesting spirally trunk form?

Claire
davesnursery
Milford, DE

July 15, 2008
10:20 AM

Post #5261620

The reason I suggest West Coast Creeper is its ability to be staked or be manipulated into growing horizontally. It is also a good fence climber. If left to its own ability it will certainly crawl the ground.

Dave
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 15, 2008
1:03 PM

Post #5262113

That would be interesting, because then I could stake parts of it up, and have other parts crawling the ground, to make a centerpiece that creates its own carpet around itself!
davesnursery
Milford, DE

July 15, 2008
1:15 PM

Post #5262152

If you like you could also plant a Tsuga Canadensis Coles Prostrate near it to also make the carpet effect. Both very hardy plants. I would counsel you like the rest here have to bring back the Cedrus.

Dave
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 15, 2008
1:31 PM

Post #5262218

Here is the tree, about to be returned. Such interesting form. As you can see there is a rock wall to the side. I think I will choose a couple of the prostrate forms of conifers that have been suggested to do a sort of tumbling action down the wall. I will choose another more upright conifer for the center of this area (the area is about 20 x 20 feet - there is another rock wall to the right hand side not visible in the photo). I'll make a central round planting for the upright conifer, with a little path to curve around it and allow for viewing of the various conifers that I'll plant on the outside of the path. Hopefully it will all work out despite my disappointment over the cedar.

Thumbnail by DrDoolotz
Click the image for an enlarged view.

davesnursery
Milford, DE

July 15, 2008
1:55 PM

Post #5262345

You might want to look into Picea Pungens Glauca Procumbens, P.P.G. Prostrata, Pinus Sylvestris Repens. All good prostrates. Procumbens not as much a prostrate but it develops a very nice skirt. Also the Picea Pungens Glauca Spingarn's Pendula is a very nice bright blue color something on the color of Hoopsi. Spingarn's Pendula has a very dramatic weeping form which will grow multiple heads. Growth rate is approx. 6-10" a year so it will not get out of control for you.

Dave
snapple45
Holland, OH
(Zone 5b)

July 15, 2008
5:47 PM

Post #5263522

The Cedrus deodara 'Eisregen' has been reported to be over wintering in the Gee Farms arboretum in mid Michigan with no problems.

(some info on Gee Farms)
http://www.geefarms.com/
ic_conifers
Iowa City, IA
(Zone 5a)

July 22, 2008
4:15 PM

Post #5301868

I have a 'Tolleson's Blue Weeping' that I purchased at the end of the seaons last year struggling along and I don't think it it very blue. It not in completely full sun, so maybe that has something to do with the color being more green. Certainly nothing like the Blue Atlas, and it might get too large for the area described. I've heard of people containerizing what you purchased in this area - maybe rather than return it you could try that route? Especially if it has a one year gurantee and you really like the tree!

Elizabeth
ic_conifers
Iowa City, IA
(Zone 5a)

July 22, 2008
4:18 PM

Post #5301882

Also, if you are looking for a larger size of something prostrate and don't want a long drive, Iowa City Landscape had a few nice picea abies 'formanek' specimen sized in stock the last time I was there, about a month ago. I purchased one last year at the end of the season and it is doing well. In October they have great clearance sales and I have my eyes on something I'm hoping will still be around by then : )
Ticker
Lisbon, IA
(Zone 5a)

July 22, 2008
4:24 PM

Post #5301909

CMoxen, if you haven't already, you really should go visit Gary Whittenbaugh's conifer garden, Fran Mara, in Oelwein. It will give you a wondrous amount of ideas for your own gardens and Gary is a walking encyclopedia on conifers. :)

This article will give you a taste of what you could see...

http://e-gardenalmanac.blogspot.com/2008/06/planting-passion-story-of-why-gardeners.html
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 22, 2008
4:40 PM

Post #5301987

Well, I returned the Atlas Cedar. I bought a weeping "snow fountain" cherry to put in the place I had intended to put it. I found a few Tolleson's but they were really sad looking, not quite what I wanted. I bought a couple of other small conifers to place around the cherry. I will have to keep an eye out for a special conifer in future - I have a spot in mind for when I find the right one. I think for now I will try to find some interesting mini conifers to place around the quadrants that will surround the weeping cherry. After it blooms, they will be the highlight of the area. For now, I have a couple of sea green junipers, a dwarf Alberta spruce and a blue star juniper. Yes, I know, a bit ordinary and boring. Still, they will help to fill out the spaces while I look for fun and interesting conifers to add in that area. I've been looking at some of the small conifer selections available from Lazy S'S Farm and I think I might order some next year.

I have heard about that Oelwein garden before - in fact I think there was an article on it in an issue of "Iowa Gardening" last year. I would love to visit it someday.

Claire
treelover3
Minneapolis, MN
(Zone 5a)

July 22, 2008
6:24 PM

Post #5302429

Hi Claire,
The Tolleson's Blue Weeping junipers really need a couple of years to come into their own. They look awful in a pot at the nursey (so sparce and freaky looking) and that makes them a hard-sell, but they really are beautiful trees once they fill out. Tolleson's MUST HAVE full sun to do well. Junipers are not very tolerant of low light conditions.

Yes, Gary's garden is amazing. Gary is the past president of the Central Region Conifer society and he has done an amazing job during his tenure as president. The 25th anniversary of the Conifer society was held in Dubuque, IA., this year and there were a number of supurb gardens on display. Gary's garden was on the post-tour schedule.

The new growth on my Tolleson's is quite blue, but Juniperus scopulorum, which is what the Tolleson's is, is not really adapted to the high humidity of this region so they don't color up and keep their color as well as they do in the arid western states. If you can find one on sale, pick it up and give it a try. It's my favorite tree in my garden.
tl
ic_conifers
Iowa City, IA
(Zone 5a)

July 22, 2008
6:56 PM

Post #5302600

I picked up mine for $50 at the end of last summer because it was such a sad case! It shed a lot this year but appears to be alive. It gets about 5 full direct hours of sun a day, so I suppose the the conditions may contribute to its continued unhappiness.
HoosierGreen
Danville, IN

July 22, 2008
9:19 PM

Post #5303272

Weeping blue spruce, different from prostrate blue spruce, is a great garden focal point! They don't "drape" as wispy as the blue atlas cedar, but have a beautiful form and are very blue, of course. My favorite, however, is weeping hemlock.

It's interesting that here in Zone 5b, I've seen several nice, healthy specimens of weeping blue atlas cedar, surviving for over five years so far. Our winters seem to have been warmer, but still with temperatures below zero, but for short periods. We're also seeing some other interesting successes of warmer zone plants such as crepe myrtles (as big as French lilacs), unusual azaleas, mondo grass, and regular blue atlas cedars (some are reaching heights of 15'+).

I think we're seeing people plant these varieties because they are available at the big box stores, which often sell plants that are not for our zone. So tempting...
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 22, 2008
9:34 PM

Post #5303361

If I hadn't paid $250 for it, I might've given it a go, but I just couldn't justify it. I do have 3 crepe myrtles, one pink and two white, but they are all hardy ones, to Zone 4! I tried mondo grass unsuccessfully. I talked to the nursery about the weeping atlas cedar and they said if they didn't sell it and it made it through the winter, I was welcome to re-purchase it! LOL!

I am certainly looking at other options. I looked at a weeping cypress this morning. Ah, the choices, the choices...

Claire
snapple45
Holland, OH
(Zone 5b)

July 22, 2008
10:22 PM

Post #5303563

If you're looking at a Chamaecyparis nootkatensis try to find a cultivar called Jubilee. It's narrower, but not as narrow as 'Green Arrow", very pendulous with a draped etherial look. Hardy to zone 4. The one pictured is 18 months here.

Thumbnail by snapple45
Click the image for an enlarged view.

DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 22, 2008
10:26 PM

Post #5303591

Oh wow Snapple45 - beautiful form in that Jubilee. I will definitely keep that one on my short list. Seems to me I could end up with more than 1 weeping conifer by the time I'm finished! I really like the colour too.
Thanks for posting that pic!
Claire
snapple45
Holland, OH
(Zone 5b)

July 22, 2008
10:27 PM

Post #5303596

Another recent conifer addition that I like, but not to everyone's taste as it is a graft.
Taxoidium distichum "Cascade Falls", also 18 months here.

Thumbnail by snapple45
Click the image for an enlarged view.

DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 22, 2008
10:37 PM

Post #5303665

Love it! Would it work in 5a also? Very nice shape. Would cascade perfectly over my stone wall.
snapple45
Holland, OH
(Zone 5b)

July 22, 2008
11:05 PM

Post #5303830

The Taxodium distichum is hardy to -30. No problem in zone 5a! It's perfect to weep over a stone wall. I can't imagine a nicer setting for it. It will grow in wet soil but has no problem with a sandy rapidly draining loam either. They come grafted at different heights. The trunk below the graft will sprout vigorously in early spring. They knock off easily just by running your hand over them. One flush on the trunk when new growth begins is all you have to deal with.
Eclipse
Norwalk, IA
(Zone 5b)

July 23, 2008
9:34 PM

Post #5308791

C Moxon,
The Woodsmith store in Clive has Cham. Nootkatensis. A nice sized one. When I did the conifer garden at the Botanical center in Des Moines I planted one of these. Its still there 7 years later.

Kyle :-0
DrDoolotz
Oxford, NS
(Zone 5b)

July 23, 2008
10:09 PM

Post #5308973

Thanks for that tip Eclipse. I try not to go there too often because I generally don't leave without having spent a couple hundred bucks, and even worse if I take Kelly because he'll buy more tools. But, since this is a specific mission...

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