Birds nest Spruce ??

edprocoat

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I have never seen or heard of one before. Whilst looking through the garden section of Home Depot I seen a display of these Birds Nest Spruce. They are literally a birds nest with many branches going each and every way, I picked one up, I could not see any hint of the trunk on this plant in a 4 gallon container, so i reached in and grasped the base of teh trunk which was as big as my wrist. It went up about 4 inches and split into two trunks. the rest is a mystery as it gets so tangled there is no way to discern what is where.

I am thinking about buying this bush, the trunk is brown and rather smooth, looks like a pine without the scales, and is only about 2 and half foot tall. Opening up the top there are two main branches about the thickness of my thumb going right and left, the needles are real short, maybe a half inch. I wonder if any of you have worked with these? Are they fast growing, do they handle root pruning well? They sure look like an awesome Bonsai starter material. The tag on it says hardiness -40 degrees. i would love to know if they have any drawbacks as the bush is $25 and would be the most expensive Bonsai material I have ever purchased, yup I am a tightwad.

ed
 

0soyoung

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I too am a neophite and I don't think you need to spend more than $10 to $15 for such a lark. I often buy "junk" just to learn something about a specie. A $5 blue spruce has taught me that spruce are pretty reluctant backbudders and that most buds are at the branch tips - cut them off and you're likely to have a dead branch.

The challenge with a bird' nest is long branches that you likely cannot lop much off. Look closely for buds closer to the trunk on the plant you are considering. If you can find many buds reasonably close to the trunk, it may be worth your while.
 

edprocoat

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I went ahead and bought this bush and pruned the heck out of it. I opened up the trunk and jinned a few areas. I read where they prune best in the fall at six or so different sites. I left each branch remaining with a decent amount of growth on them in case it does not backbud too well. From what I read this type does backbud. Although there are almost as many different opinions on this as there are sites which mention this bush. I love the thick trunk for such a small size tree, I will try and get a picture of it and post it. I will take it to florida with me and trim the roots there, it has a pot full right now as they are poking out the drain holes at the bottom. I noticed it has this one weird root that surfaces near the edge of the pot , about a quarter of inch thick and loops back down into the soil. I can not find any info on root trimming this bush, I guess it is not a popular Bonsai material.

I did notice while trimming there were quite a few places on the main trunk as well as different branches with growth sprouting out similiar to a juniper will do, so hopefully backbudding will be possible. If this does fill out nice it will make a good looking Bonsi as the trunk is so thick and aged looking already. If it does not I will keep it and give it time to see what it does. I am worried about the root mass as right now it seems totally rootbound.

ed
 

edprocoat

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Another thing, the soil near the surface around the base of the bush is tightly rooted with fine roots, so much so I can not even spray it back to see if there are large roots like the one that loops out near the edge of the pot so I assume that I will have to trim these upper roots off when I do repot it. I was also thinking about maybe cutting the trunk off below the upper fine roots if it looks like there are enough of them once I get it out of the pot. I can not find anything on this either, I did see one site , a landscape site, that said they need a large root ball to survive, althought I have read in landscape sites the same thing about Maples too. So wish me luck.

ed
 
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edprocoat

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Its amazing what a few weeks in the hotter than usual Florida sun can do for a birds nest spruce. This hardy to -40 degrees tree with the beautiful small needles, that once I opened the top up by pruning out about 1/3 the branches, which showed some very mature looking branching, well it dried up and died within weeks! I assume it could not stand the heat, I kept it watered each evening, it drained well as it would run out the bottom of the nursery pot despite the roots hanging out at the edges and by the next evening would be dry. I would stick my finger into the soil at the bottom of the pot and it was as dry as the top soil which had so many roots you could not stick anything into it.

I want to try another one if I can find it, I read where they actually need the cold eather though to go dormant, that may have been the problem as we only had a few nights which even approached freezing this fall and they were after I had trimmed it, or maybe it just needed the foliage to protect it from the sun?
Anyway, R.I.P. Birds Nest Spruce!

ed
 

Dav4

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Ed, If you try another spruce, you will be wasting your time and money if you don't leave it in Ohio for the winter. They aren't snobirds and they need a dormant period. They should do great in Ohio year round.
 

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