The dwarf Alberta spruce is an extremely slow-growing tree that takes decades to reach its complete height. If proper dwarf Alberta spruce care is not taken, spider mites can cause irreparable damage to this dainty tree.
Spruce are a group of evergreen coniferous trees, classified under the genus name Picea and belong to the pine family, Pinaceae. The spruce genus has 35 species of both dwarf as well as tall varieties.
The distinct pyramidal shape of the Picea. glauca var. albertiana ‘Conica’ or dwarf Alberta spruce makes it a ideal specimen for landscaping. The dwarf Alberta spruce is a slow-growing, small tree or medium-sized shrub, that can take close to three decades for attaining its ultimate height of 12 feet. This tree grows well in USDA zones between 2-6 and can be grown in zone 8 as well, if it is given proper care.
Despite being a dwarf species, this tree requires adequate room to grow. Hence, to ensure healthy roots, consider repotting the tree every two years. Below are some useful tips for maintaining the dwarf Alberta spruce.
Instructions for Dwarf Alberta Spruce Care
Many prefer growing the dwarf Alberta spruce as a container specimen for indoor gardening. The seeds or stem cuttings must be planted in a container during spring and placed in a cold frame. Thereafter, the sapling can either be repotted into a larger container every two years or planted in the garden. The process of repotting or transplanting must always be done during spring. Whereas, grafting must be done during winter, so that the rootstock gets ample time to recover and develop buds with the onset of spring. Slightly poorer soil should be amended with compost and mulched to retain moisture and prevent weeds.
Dwarf spruce trees are usually planted as formal landscape specimens. The dwarf Alberta spruce is also used as a border or patio plant and for making gravel and rock gardens. This tree requires full sun to partial shade to thrive. When grown indoors, adequate natural light and ventilation must be provided to this tree. Indoor heating can steal much-needed moisture form the dwarf spruce and cause it to lose its leaves and vitality. This tree must also be protected from strong winds and excess heat as these can cause severe damage.
Fertile, moist, well-drained, and acidic or neutral soil are a must for growing this dwarf spruce tree. Sand, loam, and clay are the only types of soil tolerated by the dwarf Alberta spruce. While clay-based soil must be supplemented with sand, peat moss and shredded wood bark can be used as mulch.
Irrigation and Feeding
Water these trees regularly but never to the extent of drowning the roots. Excess watering will clog the roots and encourage rotting. Potted trees will require to be watered everyday during warm climates. An organic fertilizer must be used during the initial 2 years, after which an equally proportioned feed must be used during spring and late summer. Epsom salt and emulsions can also be used in case the soil needs to be supplemented with more nutrients.
As mentioned earlier, unlike other species of spruce, this dwarf conifer grows very slowly. Therefore, there is no need for pruning. Nevertheless, there is no harm in trimming the tree in order to accentuate its pyramidal form and increase air circulation. Pruning must be done during winter when the tree is dormant or in spring after the new flush or growth has begun. Sometimes, a major shoot may develop which must be removed as soon as possible in order to prevent it from altering the shape of the tree.
Diseases and Pests
The dwarf Alberta spruce is vulnerable to aphids, adelgids, and conifer red spider mites. Look out for signs such as webs between twigs and browning leaf needles. Sheltered trees are more susceptible to mite infestation and may show signs of discoloration at the bottom half and the crowded side of the foliage. Mites thrive in hot and dry conditions, such as the part of the plant facing the wall or picket fence. Diseases such as cytospora, armillaria root rot, needle cast and blight, can wreak havoc on this dwarf conifer. Diseased branches must be removed immediately and the tree must be sprayed with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
The needles must be sprayed with an antitranspirant during fall to protect the tree from winter burn or kill. The dwarf Alberta spruce is a formal tree that can be used as a topiary and ornamental plant. This tree cannot tolerate pollution and must be sprinkled with water often so as to keep dust and mites away.