Having more greenery in your yard is a goal of most but with that greenery often comes a lot of height. Finding an option, such as the dwarf Alberta spruce tree, will allow you to have lush greenery in your backyard all year long while not having to worry about it taking up too much space.
You can start your dwarf Alberta spruce tree from a seed or a sapling. Ensure it has access to full sunlight and soil that drains well. The tree will grow slowly but you can hinder its growth even more if you plant it in a container.
Planting and Growing Dwarf Alberta Spruce
Growing from seeds
While you can grow a dwarf Alberta spruce tree from seed, we don’t necessarily recommend it. This is because tree seeds take a lot more time and energy to grow than saplings.
It can also be hard to find the seeds you want whereas finding saplings that are a few years old are much more common. Still, if you want to be a part of your tree’s growth journey right from the beginning, growing from seed can be a rewarding experience.
For the best results, start with multiple seeds. This way, the odds are better that at least one seed will grow.
You will want to harvest dwarf Alberta spruce seeds from a mature tree in the middle of fall. You will find the seeds on a cone and you can pick them as they become ripe.
Leave the cones out to dry and then extract the seeds as they spill out of the cone. The process can take up to two weeks, so be patient.
Before you plant your seeds, you may want to gently score the outer layer. However, this is not necessary so if you forget this step, that is okay.
Potting takes a bit of effort because the seeds need to undergo temperature changes that mimic their outdoor environment. To this end, you will need some space in a refrigerator, so plan accordingly.
Place the seeds in a small pot, about ½ an inch deep. The potting soil should be of good quality and moist. You can also add peat moss and sand to the soil for better conditions.
Finally, wrap the entire container in plastic and place it in the back of your fridge. You will need to leave it there for three months but don’t forget about it, so place a reminder on your phone.
After the three-month period has elapsed, you can then try to replicate spring conditions by moving the container out of the fridge and placing it in a slightly warmer location, such as a basement or garage.
Gradually expose your seedling to more light and fresh air and aim for six hours a day of light. This should take about four weeks.
One of the benefits of starting your dwarf Alberta spruce tree in a container is that it will bind the root system. As a result, the whole tree will grow slower and will retain its smaller size.
While you can decide to transfer your tree to your garden, you can also keep it in its container. However, you will need to repot your tree every two to three years. To do so, use a larger container that has at least an extra 6 inches of diameter from the original container.
Giving your tree’s root system more space to grow will allow the entire tree to get bigger. Use new potting soil and ensure your container has plenty of drainage holes as the tree does not do well in very wet conditions.
Keeping your dwarf Alberta spruce tree in a container all year long is doable but you will need to help it adapt to the winter. Trees and plants that are in containers in the winter are more susceptible to cold winds and freezing temperatures.
The easiest method is to gradually bring your tree inside. However, you want to do this slowly so it doesn’t shock the tree, both when you move it inside and when you move it outside.
You can also wrap the tree in burlap if it remains outside, as this will help protect it from cold wind blasts. If possible, move your tree to a protected area in your yard to shelter it from crosswinds.
Caring for Dwarf Alberta Spruce
The best light for dwarf Alberta spruce is full sunlight. If you can, place it either in the ground or in a container in an area that gets full light. However, if you need to, the partial shade will still be fine for the tree.
To help prevent more extreme weather conditions, either from the hot summer sun or the cold winter winds, plant the tree in an area that has northern or eastern exposure.
When planting your dwarf Alberta spruce, aim for soil that is moist but also well-draining. It does not like its roots to remain wet for very long.
Soil that is slightly acidic will also do best. For container growing, use a mixture of potting soil and peat moss.
As for planting in a garden, you can add a layer of bark mulch afterward. Not only will this help keep the soil moist but it will slowly break down and add more nutrients to your soil.
Watering your dwarf Alberta spruce will differ depending on if you are growing it in a container or in the ground. Either way, though, do your best not to overwater your tree as it does not like soggy soil.
For trees in the ground, wait until the top few inches of soil are dry before watering. While your tree will need more water in the first year of planting, it will only need water in the summer when it is dry out.
As for containers, water more often as the water will drain through the bottom holes. Use a finger to test the dryness of the soil.
Temperature and Humidity
Dwarf Alberta spruce trees do best in Hardiness Zones 3 to 6. This means they prefer cold winters and summers that don’t get too hot. Canada and the northern parts of the United States are the most likely places to find these trees.
Trees grown in both containers and the ground will benefit from yearly fertilizer. You can sprinkle an all-purpose tree fertilizer around the soil and then water really well to allow the nutrients to soak into the soil.
What is the best potting soil for Alberta Spruce?
The best potting soil will include peat moss in it. This way, the soil remains light and airy and will promote better drainage.
Potting soil will only last so long before the tree consumes all the nutrients. Therefore, you will want to change out the potting soil every two years, whether you are repotting the plant into a larger container or not.
How much space does a dwarf Alberta spruce need?
Thanks to their conical shape, dwarf Alberta spruce trees can be quite wide at the bottom. They are mostly symmetrical and have a classic Christmas tree look to them.
As a result, you can expect the trees to be up to 10 feet wide and about 12 feet tall. However, if you keep them in a container, they will be shorter and thinner as their roots won’t have a chance to spread out as much as they would if they were in the ground.
What is the growth rate of a dwarf Alberta spruce?
Dwarf Alberta spruce trees grow quite slowly. While their growth rate will vary by circumstance, you should expect only 4 inches of growth per year.
How often do you water an Alberta spruce?
The first year of growth will require you to water your dwarf Alberta spruce tree more than after it is established. Its root structure is still growing and if you transplant it, you will want to give it the best circumstances for growth.
That said, overwatering is an issue with this tree so don’t overdo it. You will want to continually check the soil to see how dry or moist it is, and then amend your watering schedule accordingly.
If planted in a container, make sure there are many drainage holes for the water to run through. Because of this, however, you will need to water more frequently, at least once a week, even when your tree is established.
For in-ground planting, water once a week to start, especially in the summer. After a few years, you will only need to water during the hot summer months.
It is better to water for a long time but spaced out for trees in the ground. This will allow the water to penetrate deeper into the soil and encourage the roots to grow stronger.
Dwarf Alberta spruce trees can grow in both your yard and in a container. They grow slowly and don’t get too wide or tall which means they are quite versatile in your landscaping designs.