How to Care for Dwarf Alberta Spruce

We purchased a dwarf Alberta Spruce tree, approximately 3 ft. tall rooted in a 3 gallon container, which we decorated lightly for Christmas. I would like to know how to keep it and when to move it outside. We are in the cold Northeast.

The dwarf Alberta spruce is a plant for which I have developed a new appreciation, especially when used in containers. Whether left in their natural conical shape or trained into topiary forms these diminutive evergreens are an easy way to add a formal accent to your garden.

This evergreen will grow in most areas of the country. Cold tolerant to minus 50 degrees F, it will thrive in hardiness zones 2 through 8. Warmer, Southern climates may have a little more difficulty with this plant because it does not like extended periods of hot weather (AHS heat zones 1 through 6).

You can move your tree outdoors at any time. In fact the sooner you make the transfer the better because the hot, dry air of your home’s interior is not an ideal environment for it.

Before you place your spruce in its permanent home outdoors, it will need to be hardened off. Keep it in a sheltered area with filtered sunlight or morning light and afternoon shade. Give it about as many days in this transitional spot as it spent indoors before you move it into full sun.

Dwarf Alberta spruces will grow in full sun to partial shade. Plant it in well-drained, consistently moist soil. If planted in a container, water when the top 3 inches of soil is dry.

Once the plant is growing outside, one problem you may run into with this plant is spider mites. Spider mite damage usually results in patches of brown, dried needles. You can test for their presence by gently shaking the plant while holding a white piece of paper under the branches. The mites will appear as small, moving flecks.

To treat for spider mites first try an insecticidal soap. It is more environmentally friendly than other methods. You’ll want to saturate the foliage. It may require several applications about 7 to 10 days apart. Now if this doesn’t work, you may have to resort to harsher pesticides. Just avoid horticultural oils because they are harmful to the dwarf Alberta spruce.