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Dwarf Alberta Spruce: Grow & Care for Picea glauca Conica

Written by Iris

Aug 19 2021

Dwarf Alberta Spruce: Grow & Care for Picea glauca Conica
The dwarf Alberta spruce, also known as Picea glauca 'Conica', is a popular, slow-growing, dense conifer that is widely sold in retail and garden centers throughout the United States.  Alberta spruce with its soft light green needles and pyramidal shape provides a unique vertical "structural accent" to the landscape. Alberta spruce can cope with periods of strong winds, low temperatures, high temperatures and drought.

Where to Grow Dwarf Alberta Spruce

This slow-growing dwarf spruce needs well-drained soil and prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade. Because of it's small size and slow growth, it works well in foundation plantings. In cold winter areas, choose a northern or eastern exposure to reduce the chance of winter burn due to drying winter winds and afternoon sun. Allow 3-4 feet from the center of the planting hole to adjacent structures or the home so the mature plant can grow unimpeded. The spruce is also a great accent plant in a landscape bed among perennials, roses or deciduous shrub plantings.
Dwarf Alberta Spruce

How to Grow Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica')

Dwarf Alberta spruce Propagation with Seeds

Another way is by seed, and it is also rare because it is difficult to get new plants with varietal characteristics of the parent plant. This path is used by hybridizers to obtain new varieties.

Dwarf Alberta spruce Propagation with Stem Cuttings

Of all the spruces, Alberta Spruce is the easiest to propagate. This is best done by cuttings. You need to cut last year’s growth in early spring before the spruce begins to grow. Cut where they attach to the main branch.
Next, you need to prepare the soil. I recommend using sterile, purchased soil. It is better suited to this, it does not develop fungal diseases and rot, and it contains fertilizers.
Containers should be at least 8-10 inches deep with drainage holes. Fill them with soil and insert the cuttings with the lower tips into the soil. The lower part of the cuttings should be clean of needles.
Apply rooting gel to the bottom of the cuttings. With rooting gel, you will get a much higher percentage of rooted cuttings.
Water the cuttings often, the pot should always be moist.
Next, the container must be transferred to the greenhouse. Within a few months, the cuttings will take root. At the end of the second season of rooting, they can be planted in separate pots.
The second way is grafting. Dwarf Alberta Spruce and daughter varieties are rarely propagated this way. By grafting propagate spherical dwarf varieties of different colors of needles. For example, Picea glauca Dendrofarma Gold looks perfectly grafted on a 10-inch trunk (stam), so it looks like a miniature yellow tree.

Dwarf Alberta spruce Propagation with Grafting

The second way is grafting. Dwarf Alberta Spruce and daughter varieties are rarely propagated this way. By grafting propagate spherical dwarf varieties of different colors of needles. For example, Picea glauca Dendrofarma Gold looks perfectly grafted on a 10-inch trunk (stam), so it looks like a miniature yellow tree.
Dwarf Alberta Spruce

How to Care for Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica')

Light Care

This type of spruce prefers sunny locations. Unlike Norway Spruce, this spruce needs a lot of suns. It can be planted in front of the house on the south side. If you plant them in full sun, the crown will be lush and thick, and the needles will have a bright green color and will also be lusher.
Also, these plants can tolerate partial shading. This means that you can plant them on the east or west side of the house, or part of the day they can be shaded by other plants. In this case, they should receive about six hours of direct sunlight.

Soil Care

Dig a hole to that depth and two to three times wider. Loosen the soil around the sides of the hole to help roots penetrate, but do not loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole – the disturbed soil may settle and leave the the tree planted too deeply.  Amend poor soil with one-third compost before backfilling. Mulch newly planted trees with two to four inches of shredded bark to conserve soil moisture and prevent weeds. 

Water Care

Offer deep watering for your newly planted dwarf spruce. Use a soaker hose or slow stream of water to give the water a chance to absorb into the soil and moisten the entire root ball. Make sure the soil stays moist until the ground freezes in the winter. The dwarf Alberta spruce is generally drought tolerant, so once the roots are established, you can cut back on watering.

Temperature and Humidity Care

Dwarf Alberta Spruce requires good air circulation and does best in low-humidity environments. Dwarf Alberta Spruce performs best in areas with cold winters and cool summers.

Fertilizer Care

Young Dwarf Alberta Spruce plants respond well to mixing in a granular fertilizer around the base of the tree once a year. Mature trees require no feeding.

Pruning Care

Dwarf Alberta spruce are easy to maintain as they rarely need pruning. The tree naturally maintains its shape, especially when given the proper spacing for growth, and the short, soft needles result in a very solid and full appearance.

Pests and Diseases Care

Spider mites can plague dwarf Alberta spruce. Watch out for these pests who suck on plant juices and can leave a tree looking yellow and browned. You can check for mites by holding a white piece of paper under a branch. Shake the branch and if you see tiny red specks which are moving, you have mites.
Spider mite infestation can be controlled non-chemically with a forceful stream of water – however, watch not to over-soak roots. To control chemically, there are many products which include the active ingredients bifenthrin, dicofol, and fentabutatin-oxide.  Illinois Extension notes that canola, clove, cottonseed, petroleum or sesame oils can all be used along with insecticidal soap.
Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica') FAQ

How big does a Dwarf Alberta Spruce get?

4 to 6 feet tall. This Dwarf Alberta Spruce reaches a maximum height of 4 to 6 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide. The Dwarf Alberta Spruce's slow growth rate means you can keep it tucked into containers for a few years.

Does Dwarf Alberta Spruce have deep roots?

Dwarf Alberta Spruce is a small plant, so its roots are not significant. Preferably, the depth does not exceed the height of the Dwarf Alberta Spruce, although there may be exceptions. Also, the diameter of the Dwarf Alberta Spruce root system is slightly larger than the width of the spruce crown.

What can I plant with dwarf Alberta spruce?

Plant Dwarf Alberta Spruce with some other cold-hardy evergreens with great texture for a unique rock garden appeal. For instance, the Gold Mop False Cypress really shines alongside it. They both have a slow-growth habit, dynamite texture, and effortless elegance.