Often sold as potted Christmas trees, the dwarf Alberta spruce is a very popular tree in Edmonton and across Canada. Here’s what you should know about this slow-growing conifer.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR ALBERTA SPRUCE
The dwarf Alberta spruce thrives in full sunlight and should be planted in moist, well-drained soil. It’s perfectly suited to Alberta’s climate of moderately cool summers and cold winters. Plus, it’s tolerant to high winds.
If your Alberta spruce is freshly planted, you should water it thoroughly at least once a week. Be sure to keep watering it through the fall until the ground freezes. Once established, the tree is fairly drought-resistant and requires less frequent watering.
The dwarf Alberta spruce requires very little pruning. However, you should remove damaged branches when you notice them. If you wish to refine your tree’s shape, it’s best to do so when new growth occurs in early spring. Don’t cut more than a few inches off the end of each branch.
THEY GET TALL — EVENTUALLY
Don’t let the word dwarf fool you, when planted in the ground and well cared for, Alberta spruce can eventually get to be 12 feet tall. However, they do take their time, only growing about three inches per year.
As this is a hybrid plant, some dwarf Alberta spruce may behave more like their parent species, the white spruce, which can grow up to a foot a year. To keep your tree a manageable size, be sure to remove any shoots with thick stems and larger foliage.
THEY MAKE EXCELLENT CONTAINER TREES
Dwarf Alberta spruce can be kept in containers for many years. In fact, a pot helps bind the root system, allowing you to control the size of your tree. Make sure the pot provides adequate drainage to minimize the chance of root rot.
COMMON AILMENTS OF AN ALBERTA SPRUCE
While the Alberta spruce is a hardy tree, particularly harsh winter weather may cause damage or turn the foliage brown. For this reason, it’s best to place yours in an area that’s protected from high winds in the winter.
Another danger to your Alberta spruce is spider mites, which can also turn the foliage brown. To treat against this pest, saturate the foliage with insecticidal soap. If this doesn’t work, a pesticide may be required.