Dwarf Alberta Spruce grow into a very attractive tree but does take a lot of patience for it to get to full size.
Dwarf Alberta Spruce do need full sun. They can grow OK in partial shade but full sun is preferred. In very hot climates at the upper end of the recommended zones plant them where they’ll get afternoon shade as it can get too hot which can stress the plant.
How much sun does a Dwarf Alberta Spruce need?
Dwarf Alberta Spruce needs at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. In this case, you can expect normal crown development and a beautiful appearance. But also, you need to properly maintain this spruce.
The further north you go, the more sun it needs. So in zone 3, it will be good if it gets at least 6 hours of sun.
Variegated varieties, such as Daisy’s White Alberta Spruce, for example, need at least 6 hours of sun, but full sun all day is contraindicated. This is because some of their needles are chlorophyll-free and more sensitive to sunburn.
In mild climates, Dwarf Alberta Spruce can grow in full sun. But in zone 3 and zone 7, morning sun and afternoon shade will be an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
Too much sun
There are cases where there can be too much sun. This is especially true for newly planted spruces. Until the tree takes root, the sun and dry wind can quickly dehydrate the needles, causing them to fall off.
To avoid this, transplant Dwarf Alberta Spruce only in spring in wet weather. Shade the tree in the first year after planting with a garden umbrella or netting. Also mulch and water the tree regularly. At the end of the season, the shade can be removed.
The second case of the excess sun is when Dwarf Alberta Spruce is growing in a container. If potted spruce is growing in full sun all day, the pot will heat up and the soil in it will dry out quickly. All this will lead to temperature stress which will become noticeable by discoloration of the needles.
Place the spruce in the half-shade. It should get about 4 hours of light in the morning and the rest of the time stay in the shade and receive only reflected sunlight. In addition, the pot should stand on the ground or concrete to give off the heat quickly in case of overheating.
The next thing that can happen to Dwarf Alberta Spruce is winter sunburn. It also often occurs in late winter or early summer. At this time the ground may not melt yet, but the sun is already shining very hard and the needles can burn.
Young spruces are most susceptible to this, but mature specimens also often get sunburned.
To avoid this, plant the spruce in a place with only half a day of direct sunlight. It should also be protected from strong frosty winds. All these recommendations are especially relevant for zones 3-4.
The second thing you should do is wrap it in a protective material for the winter. There are many good materials for this on the market, make sure the material is air permeable.
Wrap the crown of the spruce from the bottom up. Secure the blanket at the bottom to the trunk and the top with a wire. Avoid wrapping in an airtight material, the tree must breathe. After the ground has melted, remove the protection.
Also, mulch the spruce for the winter with a thick layer of limited mulch. This way you will keep the heat in the ground longer.
Can Dwarf Alberta Spruce grow in shade?
Dwarf Alberta Spruce cannot grow in the full shade because it will not get enough UV light for photosynthesis. As a result, the crown will be very loose. Sooner or later it will die from lack of light.
Also in a dark place, it is usually quite humid. This is an ideal environment for fungal diseases. Spruce depleted of light will be an easy target for pathogens.
For Dwarf Alberta Spruce to thrive, provide it with at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. This means it can grow in partial shade but not full shade all day.
If you made a mistake earlier and planted Dwarf Alberta Spruce in the shade be sure to move it to a sunnier location. The best time to do this is spring. Be very careful not to damage the roots when digging.