Colorado Blue Spruce help

Kalebh

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Hi All, so let me beginning by informing everyone that I have at least three years of bonsai experience. My question today is regarding this Colorado Blue spruce I purchased from a local nursery at the beginning of this year. It's very root bound, and at the time of purchase it didn't look like it had put out much new growth in years. So I thought, "let me put some fertilizer on it and see what it does." As you can tell from the photos it put out a ton of new growth. I've read mixed information on spruces and wanted to get more info, should I repot and prune in the spring? Or should I just heavily prune it back to the last buds on each branch and see what it does? Sorry for making this wordy, just wanted to get all the information in the post. Also, I live along the zone 7-8 boarder in the US. Thanks in advance for any help/information.
 

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sorce

Nonsense Rascal
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From the beginning, I think you should have passed on this specimen.

Consider a scale between 1-10, 1 being the "fastest" project, 10 being the "slowest".

For me, this lands at around an 8.
I don't buy anything beyond like a 3.

The only reason to take on a project leaning closer to 10 is because of material availability, like, if someone Must have some rare cultivar of maple, a long term project may be the only thing available.

Other than that, it is almost always worth while to wait for material closer to 1.

This tree, for me, has the benefits of bark and small foliage.
However, the position of the foliage, is indicative of a possible root/health issue, and also adds so many years to the project, that by the time it is close enough to the trunk to make a good tree, it will have made bark anyway.

So both of the benefits are made insignificant with the passage of time.

You are better off starting with a healthy young nursery tree with foliage already close to the trunk. In this barkless scenario, the passage of time will add significant benefits to your mission.

Well before even the "fast-slow" scale though, a "horticultural probability of living" scale should be assessed too.
This would have been a pass for me too.

Even an initial Repot seems highly risky.

But more importantly, each successive Repot you may need to perform will be a risk.

This great seperation of energy, between what you must regain in health while simultaneously removing for design, is simply not worth the time, even for a great artistic adventure.

Sorce
 

Colorado

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I would repot in the spring into a suitable substrate. The beat time is when the buds are just starting to show some green.

The you can work on reducing the foliage in 2023.

Good luck!
 

Hartinez

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Well. You own the tree so deciding or questioning wether you should or should not have bought the tree does nothing at this point. You know, cause you already bought it. I will say, Ive never seen a blue spruce come from a nursery that looks like this. Which could be looked at as a win, or a negative depending on how ambitious you are. If it were mine, I’d repot next spring and see what type of growth you get. Then reassess. You may have a very cool bunjin in there long term.
 

A. Gorilla

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Everything about this is weird.

What hartinez said. I say eventually wring out the gnarliest bunjin conceivable even if comes within an inch of it's life. Go big or go home.
 

QuantumSparky

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I've also never seen this species looking like that, very neat! I'd agree that it seems like a longer project and would second the idea of waiting until spring, just to be safe
 

Cofga

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The problem is you’ve got some very long, leggy branches on that thing and it’s going to take a while to get it comapcted to the point where it will start to look like a bonsai. Fortunately spruce can be induced to backbud but it is unlikely to happen right away. I suggest you visit the following website and read his material on spruce.

 

Colorado

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Not every tree needs to be a squat, compact, “powerful” bonsai. That is not what I would aim for with this tree.

The tree is slender and elegant. Embrace it! That is what the tree is giving you here.
 

A. Gorilla

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Not every tree needs to be a squat, compact, “powerful” bonsai. That is not what I would aim for with this tree.

The tree is slender and elegant. Embrace it! That is what the tree is giving you here.
Hey fussy britches, we already said that.

:::standing shoulder to shoulder with Hartinez, arms crossed menacingly:::
 

Kalebh

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Ok great, thank you for all the great input. When I go to repot, how much of the rootball should I remove? I only ask because I read somewhere that mature spruces don't like to be heavily root pruned? Thanks again!
 
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