Dwarf varieties of traditional spruce trees have the same color, texture and shape as their larger counterparts. The only difference is size. Dwarf spruce trees rarely grow taller than 10 feet and they are used as shrubs. They are often grown in rock gardens, planter boxes, pots and under windows. Dwarf spruce varieties often are sold in December as miniature Christmas trees.
Dwarf Alberta Spruce
The most common dwarf conifer is Picea glauca Conica, or dwarf Alberta spruce. This slow-growing spruce, used as a formal foundation shrub, has small, light-green needles and a pyramidal shape. At maturity, it reaches 10 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Its needles appear soft from a distance. It is best suited to sites where air circulates around it on all sides.
There are other dwarf spruces, but they are not as widely available as dwarf Alberta spruce. P. glauca "Jean's Dilly" has an unusual, twisting needle and grows to only 5 feet tall. P. glauca "Pixie Dust" is a more compact and dense form and grows to 8 feet tall. P. glauca "Rainbow's End," also 8 feet tall at maturity, has a midseason second flush of growth tinged yellowish-green or cream-yellow.
Dwarf spruce varieties are native to North America. They require full to part sun and are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 2 through 6. Moist, well-drained soil is recommended. Plant them in the fall or spring. Place these shrubs several feet away from the house or any other structure.
Dwarf Alberta spruce is prone to insect infestation, especially from mites that flourish in spring and summer moisture. Spruces planted next to a house or other structure are especially at risk. Mite infestation leads to browning of foliage and stem and needle death. For this reason, the Ohio State University Extension recommends only using this shrub in open areas with good air circulation. An annual pesticide application may also be necessary.
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
Dwarf and Miniature Evergreens
Miniature evergreen plants, sometimes called dwarf evergreens, are defined not only by their short height at maturity but by their slow growth...
How to Get Rid of Spider Mites in an Alberta Spruce
Spider mites are tiny, hardy creatures related to spiders and ticks. These mites commonly infect deciduous and evergreen plants and can lead...
How to Plant Dwarf Spruce
If you are looking for a slow-growing, dense conifer with a pyramid form, consider planting a dwarf Alberta spruce. Marketed as dwarf...
How to Prune a Dwarf Blue Spruce
The blue spruce, also known as the Colorado blue spruce, can reach heights up to 85 feet with a crown width of...
Types of Dwarf Evergreen Trees
Dwarf varieties of evergreen trees originate in various ways: crossbreeding of cultivars by plant developers, grafting onto a dwarf rootstock or, naturally,...
Where Should I Plant Alberta Spruce Trees?
For most U.S. gardeners, the name Alberta spruce is synonymous with dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca variation albertiana "Conica"), one of the...