Alberta Spruce

Ilona Erwin

Alberta spruce, Picea glauca ‘Conica’ is a favored dwarf evergreen for foundation and landscape use. I have grown them in both my rural and city garden. Their greatest drawback is the spider mite infestations they are prone to- which I never suffered in the city because I was in the habit of hosing off the bushes regularly. Out in the country it was a different story, but read on to the “Garden Notes” for my secret companion plant remedy.

Picea Glauca Appearance

Perfectly cone shaped, the Alberta will look like a miniature Christmas tree and is, in fact, often sold as such during the Christmas season. It is a hardy (zones 3-8) dwarf spruce tree which will survive cold temperatures, but not hot indoor environments. If you get one as a holiday plant it should be planted outside after no more than a week (since it likely suffered in the store’s heated aisles for awhile).

alberta spruce

a dwarf evergreen with a conical shape


The fine and closely branched appearance can be like grass green cut velvet with its spring growth, and a medium light green during the rest of the year. They slowly grow to 10 feet tall, mine has been no taller than 6 feet for twenty years or more; about 3 feet wide.

The Alberta Spruce is a very handsome plant unless attacked by mites. Mites leave it very disfigured and possibly dead, if the plant is young and the mites are infesting it badly.

Cultivation Care for Alberta Spruce

Full sun, water regularly until the roots are established, after which they simply need moderate moisture. The soil should be well drained, not soggy. It really is not a fussy plant, especially once settled in.

Growing Notes

Here is my own secret, companion plant observation: where the Alberta was underplanted with Nepeta mussinii there was little-to-no spider mite problem… as soon as a side had the groundcover removed… the mites did damage again. I believe that using catmint underneath the shrubs will deter the spider mites and save your bushes. Worth a try, and catmint is a very attractive groundcover.

People love to plant them as entranceway shrubs, and that is how I first used the Alberta spruce. It likes good air circulation so be sure to space it reasonably away from the walls and steps – which is good practice for all your foundation plantings, anyway.

Albertas do appreciate an organic and moist, but well drained, soil.

Picea is the Latin name for Spruce, derived from the word pix, or pitch, referring to the sticky resin in Spruce bark.

The cultivar ‘Conica’ was discovered in 1904 in Alberta, Canada.

“Older specimens commonly ‘revert’, developing normal adult foliage and starting to grow much faster; this ‘reverted’ growth must be pruned if the plant is to be kept dwarf.” ~Picea Glauca info. I’ve never seen this in my own experience, but you might want to be aware.

The wikipedia entry on “Spruce” says that they are “distinguished by their whorled branches and conical form”.

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.