10 Ways To Use Dwarf Alberta Spruce in Your Yard

This pretty evergreen boasts a classic Christmas tree shape and holds its own in planting beds or pots. Learn some secrets to growing and using dwarf Alberta spruce.

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Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: DoreenWynja.com photographer for Monrovia

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: DoreenWynja.com photographer for Monrovia

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: DoreenWynja.com photographer for Monrovia

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: DoreenWynja.com photographer for Monrovia

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Discover Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica') has a shape like a miniature Christmas tree. Bright green needles demand little care to look their best, and a slow growth rate makes this spruce a go-to evergreen for containers. Dwarf Alberta spruce grows just 2 to 4 inches a year. When shopping, buy a plant close to the size you want.

Spiral Dwarf Alberta Spruce

It’s not unusual to find dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica’) sold in various forms. In the nursery trade, this type of pruned spruce is known as a topiary spiral. Its unusual silhouette makes it a good choice for a focal point shrub in the landscape. When adding dwarf Alberta spruce to your yard, choose a spot with full to part sun and well-drained soil.

Dynamic Duo

One of the most common ways to use dwarf Alberta spruce in the landscape is to plant a pair flanking an entry, driveway or path. In this entry garden, two spruce frame the steps to the front porch, effectively calling attention to it. Clumps of pink spirea provide a pretty counterpoint to the steady green of this pair of porch-side spruces. In winter, dwarf Alberta spruce really shines, sounding a steady note of green through snows and winter cold. Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica’) is hardy in Zones 2 to 8.

Perfect For Pots

When choosing dwarf Alberta spruce for pots, consider miniature varieties, like Tiny Tower (Picea glauca conica 'MonRon’). This little cutie reaches a maximum height of 4 to 6 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide. The slow growth rate means you can keep it tucked into containers for a few years. Tiny Tower has bright green leaves that shift to gray as they mature. It’s hardy in Zones 3 to 8. At Christmas, you’ll often see mini Christmas trees in pots. These are usually dwarf Alberta spruce and can be planted into the landscape after the holiday.

Add Height to Plantings

Draft conical forms of dwarf Alberta spruce to add vertical elements to plantings. In this bed, dwarf Alberta spruce towers neatly above drifts of lavender. Both plants crave well-drained soil, which this gravel mulched bed provides. In winter, when the lavender is resting, the spruce takes center stage, adding color and height all winter long.

Welcome Guests

Welcome guests with a topiary spiral dwarf Alberta spruce, which adds contrasting curves to the straight lines of a front door. Because of the slow growth rate, dwarf Alberta spruce usually only needs minimal pruning. Do it once a year (if needed) in spring after new growth is appearing. Use sharp pruners and remove only as much as necessary. Spiral and other topiary forms need more consistent pruning than the Christmas tree shapes.

Walk This Way

Dwarf Alberta spruce makes a great choice for marking the head of a path or walkway. Here (left side of path) it pairs beautifully with its counterpart across the path, a clump of zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus’). Dwarf Alberta spruce will grow in part shade, thriving beneath high canopy trees that deliver filtered sunlight. In cold winter regions, give dwarf Alberta spruce protection from drying winter winds and hot afternoon sun by siting it on an eastern or northern exposure.

Great Balls of Spruce

Look for this topiary style of dwarf Alberta spruce featuring spheres. In the nursery trade, this form is known as a two-ball poodle or pom-pom spruce. It’s a great choice for complementing a formal garden or making a statement in containers. When growing dwarf Alberta spruce in containers, use a commercial bagged soil blended for acid-loving plants. Consider adding shredded pine bark to the mix. Layer a few inches of bark mulch over soil to help it retain moisture.

Too Cute for Words

Usually dwarf Alberta spruce is a go-to plant for adding an air of formality to gardens. But the topiary forms also lend themselves to playful garden whimsy, like this pom-pom spruce decked out with sun hat and shoes. It’s a great choice for a children’s garden. If your dwarf Alberta spruce develops brown needles or dead spots due to winter burn or spider mites, you can always prune out those branches to create your own one-of-a-kind topiary style.

Larger Than Life

Most descriptions of dwarf Alberta spruce list the mature height as 5 feet, but it can reach substantial size when it's left untrimmed for decades. These dwarf Albertas were tucked into the landscape over 40 years ago and are now as tall as a one-story home. When planting dwarf Alberta spruce, always leave at least 3 feet between them and structures or plants. They grow best with good air circulation, and proper spacing is important if you intend to let them remain in place for many years.

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