Used as an accent plant the Dwarf Alberta Spruce, Picea glauca 'Conica', can be seen throughout the country. This evergreen is hardy from zones 2- 8, depending on which reference material you use. Many people are confused by the word 'dwarf' in a plant's name. Dwarf means that this cultivar is smaller than the species. A Dwarf Alberta Spruce can grow to 10- 12 feet tall and about 2 to 3 feet wide. Given some of the placements for this tree, many times it is planted in the wrong place. The Dwarf Alberta Spruce is a very slow grower, so sometimes placement isn't an issue for many years. Some sights say it grows 2-4 inches per year. It is a great shaped tree, another of the pyramidal Christmas tree type specimen.
Here in Southern Virginia the biggest problem with the Spruce is spider mites. The spider mites attack an area where there is limited air circulation and moist conditions. (sounds like the south in the summer) Infestation will lead to stem and needle death. A once beautifully formed Spruce can become rather ugly if you are not proactive in getting rid of the spider mites. One of the easiest methods is a cold spray with the hose. Some references recommend an annual treatment of a pesticide preventative. Again, proper placement will be helpful in preventing insect damage. Keeping the tree away from walls to allow for good air circulation is key.
The Dwarf Alberta Spruce is not very tolerant of stresses in the environment. Those stresses include pollution, dry conditions, and heat.
I know it sounds like I am not fond of this little tree, but I am. I realize it needs to be in the correct place and monitored for insects for it to do well in my area. Given the right conditions this is a super tree especially in more formal settings.
My references this week include- Ohio State Plant fact sheet which has some cultivar information and some alternative shrubs from which to choose.
NCState fact sheet- limited information and UCONN web information for the Spruce species with a little data about the 'Conica'.
Next week's tree will be Virginia Pine. Ya'll come back now.
words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.