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Grow Alberta Spruce in Container?

Q: Can I grow my newly purchased Dwarf Alberta Spruce in a container on the deck in Anchorage, Alaska.

Will I have to put the tree in the garage for the winter? I have to do a lot of container growing here because of the rabbits.

What kind of soil mix does it do well in? Thanks for any help you can give me.

A:I would imagine that you could grow your Alberta spruce in a container just fine.

I don't think you'll have to "garage" the tree for winter as dwarf Albertas are hardy down to Zone 2 (average minimum temperate of -40 to -50 Fahrenheit). I know Fairbanks is in Zone 2, so you should be safe in this respect.

As for the soil mix, any good, friable soil that allows maximum root growth is fine.

You could use regular topsoil mixed with some potting soil and/or peat, just to mix it up a bit. Be sure to use a container that allows for future growth, both above and below ground.

As for winter time, I would do everything possible to protect the sides of the container from sub-freezing temperatures.

The root system of a containerized plant is vulnerable to cold from ALL directions, not just from above. Therefore, the soil (and roots) can freeze solid if the container is left unprotected, which can spell the demise of the plant.

There are many ways to accomplish this. You could half bury the container and then mulch the rest of the way up and a little over the top. This will moderate the temperate exposure.

You could also place the container out of the wind, like in an unheated building, and just mulch all the way up the sides of the container for a little extra root protection.

Fiberglas insulation wrapped around the container will also work.

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Tom Mugridge

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