Blue Spruce: best timing for heavy pruning and wiring

leandroaveiro

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Hi, completely new to bonsai and to the forum.
I recently acquired an untrained Blue Spruce. It's completely packed with thick branches, which I will need to reduce significantly.

My questions is, what is the best time of the year to do some heavy pruning and wiring? Right about now at the turn of spring and summer, or should I wait until early fall, after the summer dormancy? Late fall/winter?
I've been finding mixed information on the web and some literature, so I thought to post the question here.

I have a similar question for a Chinese Jumper, but I'll post it separately.

Thanks!
 

hinmo24t

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i could be wrong but with birds nest spruce and whatnot, and some other species, i think its one where you want to be conservative with modifications. space them out and let it recover in between.

the juniper is in that category as well i recall
 

leandroaveiro

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i could be wrong but with birds nest spruce and whatnot, and some other species, i think its one where you want to be conservative with modifications. space them out and let it recover in between.

the juniper is in that category as well i recall
Yes, I intend to space the cuts out in time, but I guess I don't know even know when to start! 😛
I've read different things about spring and fall regarding the best timing for pruning and wiring.

I'm willing to start now, it looks like the growth is hardened off and the tree is healthy, but if I know I'll get better changes if I wait until fall, then I'd do that.
 

sorce

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You may want to get them both into different or smaller pots with all the foliage to help grow roots.

Welcome to Crazy!

Pics!

Sorce
 

PeaceLoveBonsai

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Hi, completely new to bonsai and to the forum.
I recently acquired an untrained Blue Spruce. It's completely packed with thick branches, which I will need to reduce significantly.

My questions is, what is the best time of the year to do some heavy pruning and wiring? Right about now at the turn of spring and summer, or should I wait until early fall, after the summer dormancy? Late fall/winter?
I've been finding mixed information on the web and some literature, so I thought to post the question here.

I have a similar question for a Chinese Jumper, but I'll post it separately.

Thanks!
I find fall to be the best time for this type of work.
 

HorseloverFat

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I agree with urr’bahdi.

And also heavily YES about “Fall being the best time”

But... how much pruning? Conversely, how much bending?

All conifers I purchased my first year.. got “two insults”.... kind of by accident... as I didn’t consider wiring(Heavier bending) an insult. It IS... it is an insult... not a single one of those trees exists.. (oddly enough, a lot of my first-year coniferous COLLECTIONS are still kickin’... probably because I stuck hard to the “recovery season (or two)” before hard work)
 

leandroaveiro

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Thanks for the help!

OK. It looks like there's a consensus about working on it in the fall. But I still get curious, because my limited horticultural knowledge tells me that during the fall the trees are loading up in their energy storage for the winter, so pruning and bending at that time is a bit counter intuitive to me. Wouldn't I be impacting their winter hardiness for the next winter?

In late spring, after the buds have opened and the new growth has hardened, wouldn't that be a good time too?

Here's a picture. It's so densely packed it's a hard to see the trunk, but I even with this many branches I couldn't find any significant swollen whorls on it.

Thanks again.

20210527_102928.jpg
 

hinmo24t

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im pretty anti alberta spruce which those remind me of when small, but ive seen that same tree a handful of times and want a colorado like that. nice tree.
i bought my birds nest which is turning out to be a nice tree instead of that, both were like $50 at the time
your might be a bit late to do a lot too now with hot temps coming. maybe let her be until next spring or the fall. maybe slightly prune her or take some low branches off to show the trunk a bit (?)


btw some people in here mentioned fall which could be a good time for these particular trees, but you could prob do some work in spring like you mentioned. i repot my birds nest, some rootwork, and minor pruning and it exploded w growth soon after
20210521_205818.jpg
20210521_172726.jpg
 

Paradox

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Thanks for the help!

OK. It looks like there's a consensus about working on it in the fall. But I still get curious, because my limited horticultural knowledge tells me that during the fall the trees are loading up in their energy storage for the winter, so pruning and bending at that time is a bit counter intuitive to me.

In the spring as trees are growing, they are often full of water and their bark becomes looser from it. Wiring at this time can cause the bark to slip on the branch and kill the branch. In the fall, the trees are not as full of water as they are not as actively growing.

Tree store energy for winter and fall after the strong growth push in spring/early summer. That is why they make alll those leaves and needles, to capture the sun's energy and convert it to plant energy. In the fall as day length gets shorter and temperatures get cooler, they start to slow down for winter sleep. Deciduous trees shed their leaves. They already have the energy from the summer and dont need thier leaves any more.
 

PiñonJ

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It looks like there's a consensus about working on it in the fall
Spring is absolutely the best time to do heavy work, when buds swell and are just showing some green. Fall is the second-best time, but you have to give the tree about six weeks to generate the resources for cold hardiness. Don’t do heavy root work and foliage reduction in the same season, except perhaps the very first time working on cheap nursery material.
after the buds have opened and the new growth has hardened, wouldn't that be a good time too?
It’s a good time to prune branches back to the length you want, but if you want more back buds, just fertilize and let it grow.
 

Paradox

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The OP specifically asked about heavy pruning and wiring and my point still stands on that aspect.

However since someone mentioned repotting....
Repotting should be done in the late winter, early spring as buds just begin to swell.

I agree with not doing root work and heavy pruning in the same year. One major insult per year.
 

leandroaveiro

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But you have to give the tree about six weeks to generate the resources for cold hardiness.
Allow six weeks between pruning/wiring and winter coming, or allow six weeks into the fall before doing any work?
I agree with not doing root work and heavy pruning in the same year. One major insult per year.
Agreed. Take it easy on the torture...
 

Colorado

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I agree with @PiñonJ . Spring, as the buds are just showing green, is my preferred time for heavy work on spruce.

I do not do much if any fall work on spruce.
 

RKatzin

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I would suggest you leave it be until next spring and at that time get the roots pruned and the tree repotted. Then after one year you may consider how you want to prune and or wire. You really can't make these decisions until you see how the base of the tree swells and the roots spread, often determining the front of your tree.
Some light work in the fall and some intensive root work in six months is over the limit of one insult per year. Hold off on any work until the spring and let it build up a good bit of vitality for your spring root work.
 

Tycoss

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I have a fair number of collected spruce. There are probably other ways to go about it, but I do repotting in early spring and wiring/pruning in either early fall or spring. I can confirm that spruce hate being worked on when actively growing (late spring/early summer).
One thing about timing that I've learned is to do your "insult" and then see how the tree responds. Don't insult it again until after you see a response in terms of bud production. That means if you repot or do heavy pruning/bending, wait until after the next STRONG growing season before doing heavy work, rather than sticking to calendar year.
 

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