This is what I refer to as a “staple” conical or pyramidal foundation type shrub. While some my think this shrub is not elite enough for their yards, it is a great option for the less finicky gardener or one looking to save money. It is usually a cheaper price than let’s say prettier type shrubs of similar shape, like Boxwood or Holly, but it can serve its purposes.
Picea glauca ‘Conica’, the Dwarf Alberta Spruce, is a plant that can take some drought, grows slowly, doesn’t require pruning, and is a low-maintenance shrub. Although it is listed as a dwarf, it can reach about 8 to 10 feet in 25 to 30 years. Three feet wide, its shape becomes broader with age. The needles are fine, small and medium green. Densely branched on its stems. It is a full plant that enjoys full sun, but it can take some shade. And this plant does fine in large containers!
Sometimes folks overlook the shrub option when it comes to container gardening. Go for a container size of a whiskey barrel or larger and let it serve you for many years. Use it as a focal point or even a thriller in the container gardening world, then add different plants each season to dress it up. Try pansies in spring, change them out in summer switching to summer bloomers. Let it be a repeat performer in your landscape for many years over.
Often I will move my container gardens with shrubs into my garage over the winter and then just roll them back out as soon as spring arrives, refresh the mulch, give it a slow introduction to watering again – and voila, I saved money this way! Because the Dwarf Alberta Spruce is slow-growing and very tight, with the ability to take full sun and a bit of a dryer soil, it works great in containers. However, should we get hit with a really hot summer, be sure to water it. You can not just ignore it completely. Sometimes this plant can get attacked by mites, especially if too dry or too hot. This will be noticeable if you see signs of browning on the plant. The weather conditions should be noted in other words. If no rain, and a droughty season, be sure to visit your container to water it. Its roots can’t reach out to the ground and it is dependent on you.
Sometimes Dwarf Alberta Spruces will shoot out a stem that looks unlike like the others. This is known as a sport. The plant is actually reverting to his parent form. When this occurs, and it did on one of mine, just prune it off just below the point of where it started. This plant also does bloom, but it won’t be visible until you see bees hovering around it.
Dwarf Alberta Spruces are also good to use as hedges, although it is not my preferred look for a hedge because of how they tend to get broad, like growing fat hips later. But they can be used as windbreaks, to anchor corners, and even to bring a green background or raised green spot in the garden among other plantings and perennials in full sun locations. So because of these traits, I don’t boycott Dwarf Alberta Spruces. Yes, it is one of those common ones, but if it works for you, it is perfectly acceptable! Cathy T