Carol Chernega has been a writer, lecturer, and professional gardener for over 20 years. See her in action at: youtube.com/OneGardenAtATime.
 

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Pruning Sports on Dwarf Alberta Spruce
by Carol Chernega - posted 07/31/17

No, I don’t mean that you should play games while pruning! I’m referring to that odd thing that’s growing out of your Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca Conica) (see picture) You may have noticed that it looks a bit different from the rest of the tree, and it may be growing out at an odd angle. In most cases, it’s a white spruce that’s starting to take over the tree. This is sometimes called a ‘sport’.

To understand this phenomenon, it’s necessary to go back to the origin of the Dwarf Alberta Spruce. It was actually a ‘sport’ itself! It started growing out of a white spruce, and was propagated for the special characteristics it had – smaller needles and very slow growth. This made it desirable for foundation plantings. But many times, the original white spruce will create a branch coming out of the dwarf tree. This is why this oddball branch looks different. It’s trying to revert to the original plant.

So that’s why this happened. Now, what happens if you leave it there? If it isn’t removed, it’ll take over the tree – in most cases, growing larger than the original plant.

The solution? You’ve got to get rid of it. Follow that ‘bad’ branch back as far as you can and cut it off. If you catch it early enough, it won’t leave a hole. It may start to come back again next year, but just keep cutting it off and eventually it may give up.

Examine the ‘after’picture. The white spruce is gone, leaving only the good stuff. Ahhh, now that was an easy fix.

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