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Dwarf Alberta Spruce Root System (Full Overview)

Hi friends, I am often asked questions about the root system of various trees. So far, there have been a considerable number of questions about the root system of Dwarf Alberta Spruce. For this reason I decided to write this article and tell you everything I know about this topic.

Root system overview

The root system of the Dwarf Alberta Spruce is relatively small. This tree typically grows to 7 feet tall and about 5 feet wide. This small size does not require a large root system.

The root system of this tree consists of two types of roots. The first is the thick roots that hold the tree upright. They grow both deep and wide.

In depth, they usually grow no more than the height of the tree. At the same time in width they can grow 2-3 times the diameter of the Dwarf Alberta Spruce crown.

This type of roots allows to keep the tree in place even in the strongest winds. In addition, frozen ground is not able to damage these roots as they are very strong.

The second type of roots are fibrous roots. They are usually concentrated closer to the trunk of the tree. They provide the tree with water and minerals as they can absorb them very well. This type of root is the least resistant to root rot.

The root system of Dwarf Alberta Spruce is able to create symbiotic relationships with different types of fungi. As a result, the tree receives useful minerals and additional water.

It can be said that the fungi are a growth stimulant for the spruce. As the mycorrhiza expands, it supplies more and more nutrients to the tree and it is forced to grow more intensively.

Read also: Dwarf Alberta Spruce Care Guide

dwarf alberta spruce root system

Root system problems

The most common problem with the root system of Dwarf Alberta Spruce is root rot. As a result, the roots are unable to absorb water and the needles turn brown and fall off. A tree affected by root rot may die.

Causes of root rot are:

  1. Too frequent watering.
  2. Poorly drained soil.
  3. Improper planting location.

To avoid this problem, plant Dwarf Alberta Spruce in a location where there is no water source nearby. When planting, use organic matter to improve soil drainage. Water the spruce only after the soil has dried out two inches.

The second problem is a soil pH that is too high. If the soil has a pH greater than 7.0, the needles of Dwarf Alberta Spruce may begin to yellow. Use soil acidifiers to correct this.

Third is competition with other trees. The roots of some trees, such as Magnolia, are very aggressive and the roots of Dwarf Alberta Spruce may not be able to compete with them for water and minerals. Therefore, avoid planting it near such trees.

Avoid damaging the root system

I want to warn you against damaging the root system of Dwarf Alberta Spruce. This sometimes happens when gardeners put a new plant close to a spruce.

As a result of the damage, some of the needles may turn brown and fall off. It is also possible that a few of the lower branches will die. This will make the tree unsightly.

To avoid this, put other plants at least 2-3 feet away from the Dwarf Alberta Spruce.

Another case is transplanting. If you transplant a spruce tree incorrectly and damage the roots, it will die.

To avoid this, transplant your spruce only in early spring before budbreak. Dig it up so that as many roots as possible are retained together with the soil. In the new location, be sure to create shade for the tree for a few months.

How to choose a Dwarf Alberta Spruce with good roots?

I would like to give you a recommendation on how to choose a Dwarf Alberta Spruce with a good root system. I often see that nurseries sell plants with poor root systems. As a result, these plants die quite quickly when planted in the garden.

When you come to the garden center, inspect all the spruces that are on sale. The diameter of the pot in which the spruce is growing should be no smaller than the diameter of the crown of the spruce.

Choose a spruce with a rich green needle color and a lush crown. Holding the base of the trunk, gently pull the spruce out of the pot and examine the roots.

The roots should look healthy. You can see what healthy roots look like in the photo at the beginning of this article.

Crush a small portion of the roots from the edge. They should not crush easily and should be white inside. If the roots are rotten, they are easily crushed (mushy) and dark inside.

Also make sure that the spruce does not have a root bound, i.e. the roots are not tangled and growing in a circle.

People also asking

Are the roots of Dwarf Alberta Spruce invasive?

Dwarf Alberta Spruce are invasive. This tree is compact in size and does not need a large root system. It gets along well with other trees in the vicinity. You can even grow shade-loving perennials under the Dwarf Alberta Spruce and everything will be fine.

However, you should realize that every tree needs room to grow and Dwarf Alberta Spruce is no exception. For this reason, I recommend planting trees or shrubs at least 3-5 feet away from it. The larger the tree the greater the distance should be.

Can Dwarf Alberta Spruce roots damage a foundation of a house?

The roots of Dwarf Alberta Spruce are not able to damage the foundation of a house. This tree is a dwarf conifer so it does not have the strength to crush concrete.

In the photo above you can see Dwarf Alberta Spruce growing very close to a brick driveway and nothing happened to the driveway.

However, I do recommend planting this spruce at least 3 feet from the foundation of the house.

Are Dwarf Alberta Spruce roots susceptible to rot?

Dwarf Alberta Spruce roots are susceptible to root rot. The most common cause is overwatering. As a result, the tree loses its needles. To avoid this, water it only when the soil is 2 inches dry.

A second cause of root rot is often poorly drained soil. For this reason, always plant Dwarf Alberta Spruce in a mixture of native soil and compost.

Can Dwarf Alberta Spruce roots be pruned?

The roots of Dwarf Alberta Spruce can be pruned, but you need to be aware of why you are doing this. The only reason for root pruning is if the Dwarf Alberta Spruce is growing in a pot. To avoid root bound, the roots should be pruned once a year.

If this is your case, cut the roots only in early spring before the tree wakes up. Cut no more than 10% of the root system. Shorten only those roots that start to grow in a circle or intertwine.


Sunday 29th of October 2023

How far away from the water line to the home should you/I plant the DWF Alberta Spruce? My home is a year old & I have no trees in the front yard because of the water line. I bought 2 of these trees hoping I could put them in my front yard.

Igor Viznyy

Wednesday 1st of November 2023

Hi, Annette. Plant Dwarf Alberta Spruce at least 3 feet from the water line. However, if you can increase this distance, do so.