CO-Horts Blog

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dwarf spruce may develop delusions of grandeur by Robert Cox, CSU Extension Agent - Horticulture, Arapahoe County

Posted by Robert Cox, CSU Extension - Arapahoe County
Dwarf Alberta spruce, aka Dwarf White spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) has been planted in Colorado landscapes for many years.   People like its formal appearance, perfect form, and reluctance to grow more than 10 feet tall.

It was found in Alberta, Canada as a naturally-occurring dwarf in 1904.   Since its introduction into the nursery trade it has become widely propagated and widely sold.   Dwarf Alberta spruce has become “the” conifer to plant in containers.

Dwarf Alberta spruce, whether in containers or in-ground, often “winterburns” in Colorado…the result of wildly-fluctuating winter temperatures or dryness caused by winds, dry soils and low humidity.    

Some Dwarf Alberta spruces can develop an alter-ego...they may decide that it’s no longer cool to be small, so they develop “reversion shoots”.     These reversion shoots want to grow up to become a full size white spruce.

Reversion shoot

Reversion shoots

If one of these uppity little spruces tries reverting in your yard, just prune out that shoot at its origin on the stem/trunk.  Or, let it grow out to become a neighborhood conversation piece.
 Photo courtesy Tony Koski

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