Our plant of the week is a very common ‘dwarf’ evergreen, very slow growing, and commonly used as an upright foundation evergreen, in rock gardens, or specimen gardens as it does grow so slowly. And you’ll see it used a lot in containers and sold at Christmas time for a Christmas Tree in a pot. It’s Picea glauca ‘Conica’ or commonly known as Dwarf Alberta Spruce (don’t be fooled – it can still get 10-15 feet high and 6-10 feet wide over many years!). And yes, it’s very popular! It’s a cool plant, but the reason I chose it this week, is that I have had multiple emails over the past month asking what’s happening to the Alberta Spruce. Now usually the questions concern cool season mite damages, or ‘winter burn’ or both, but these questions were concerning something else growing out of the Alberta Spruce! Something totally different.
Dwarf Alberta Spruce was discovered in the early 1900’s in Alberta Canada as a naturally occurring mutation (sports) from a white spruce. This is how many new plants are found, especially dwarf selections. But sometimes those new selections with suddenly begin to grow like the parent plant it was originally found on, and this is called genetic reversion…its reverting back to the original form. And for some reason I have had more emails recently about this than usual. Guess folks are out and about in the garden and realizing its different! And in most cases, they realize its different after the reverted growth has been grown for a few years. Which is not good. As soon as these are noticed, they should be removed at the point where they grew from the trunk. And from past experiences, most folks just leave it alone and get 2 plants on one trunk, which looks a bit strange. At least it does to me.