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Dwarfing that Dwarf Alberta Spruce
by Tom Mugridge

Q: Good Day. I find in books and on the Web; including an article on this site that vaguely touch on the Idea of Pruning Dwarf Alberta Spuces.

Can you please tell me how one might find out the correct technique? Be it a book or Web Site. I used Google Search, and 90% of sites found are trying to sell me a plant, of which I do not need.

Thank You in Advance for any Suggestions,

A: I recommend that you go to the Ohio State University site at www.plantfacts.ohio-state.edu and search the factsheet database with the keywords "pruning evergreens". Here you'll get the proper techniques for pruning pines, spruces and firs.

In short, dwarf Albert spruces typically don't need much in the way of pruning. They only grow an inch or 2 per year, so they don't get large in any hurry. You can only prune back to a green bud or side branch, which usually isn't that far in due to their slow growth, so there's not a lot you can do to reduce their size.

However, if you have small twigs that stick out from the body of the plant and you want to "shape" it, you can clip them back in accordance with the proper pruning techniques you'll find at this website. But don't cut too far in, or you may damage the plant.

I usually find dwarf Alberta spruces have been planted in a very tight space since their name implies they'll stay very small. A lot of people seem to believe that the 2' x 2' area by the sidewalk will hold a dwarf Albie. Surprise, even a dwarf Albie will get bigger than that! Then they're faced with having to prune it to fit, which normally leads to disfiguring this beautiful plant.

Alberta spruces can get to be 6-8' tall in many, many years, so plan accordingly. We have 3 outside our office about that size, and they've been there for a long, long time. I think we have yet to prune them, other than removing some deadwood once in a while. From this standpoint, they're very low maintenance.

However, spidermites LOVE these plants, so you'll probably have to contend with them, especially during hot summers (like we're having right now!).

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Tom Mugridge

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