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Alberta Spruce
Cut off the Top?

Q: I have 4 dwarf albertas, each about 7-8 feet tall, 17 years old. They are getting too tall for front bed and I was hoping to top them off.

Can I cut off main trunk 3 feet up ( ie remove 2/3 height of tree) and tie a side branch up as a new leader and will this work or just kill the tree???

I am ok with deformity for a few years if it will work.

Also, I've noticed the sides of trees against the brick house are all brown, while the sides facing out are green... is this normal?


A: Yes, you can do this, but you will have a very deformed tree for many many years because dwarf Alberta spruces grow very slowly.

All the while you are waiting for the tree to grow back into shape it will not look good at all, and this will probably be for several years.

I recommend you consider having them professionally transplanted to a bigger and better spot. It would be a shame to disfigure such nice-sounding Alberta spruces simply because they have outgrown their space.

As for the browning up against the building, this is not unusual. It is most likely due to the shading out of the branches on that side of the tree.

Insufficient sunlight leads to insufficient production of chlorophyll, so there is often a natural attrition of branches on the shady sides of the plant.

This would be another good reason to transplant them -- to get them into fuller sunlight.

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Tom Mugridge

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