Colorado Blue Spruce

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475
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Location
NE Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5a
#1
So here is a Colorado Blue Spruce that is one of 2 I purchased years ago in 1 gallon nursery cans. This one was placed in the ground a few times ending up here the last 2-3 years. The other has been in/out of grow beds repotted last year in what I don't remember, but hasn't grown the same. Another time for that one. As for this one, if it was yours, what would you do? How would you procede with it? I am redoing my grow beds to the right of this and removing most of the ground growing material around it as I've overplanted the heck out of the area trying to cram as much as I could early on that half of it is being shaded out. Here it is in all its neglected glory:

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1,352
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2,201
Location
Eastern townships, Quebec
USDA Zone
4
#5
Personally I would start to study which branches I want to keep, then when dormant start removing unwanted branches. I would also start to cut back the branches I want to keep, to a bud or two. I have worked mine down to a rough structure of a semi cascade over the last few years. I do really enjoy the blue needles.
 

wireme

Masterpiece
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Location
Kootenays, British Columbia
USDA Zone
3
#6
Yeah, I would just look for branches to eliminate entirely, don't cut flush leave Stubbs. Maybe half the branches right now, then sit and stare and hope for inspiration. Repeat yearly, eventually an idea will present itself or you will have cut everything off and you'll have a trunk with no branches left and nothing to worry about anymore.
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
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Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
#7
I'd first figure which best to remove...
And which to leave there...

I was thinking cut it back some...
Maybe yoink a branch or 12 down...

Beat it up....

And leave it for. A while....

But if the space is better used working any other near ones....(doubt it)
Maybe yes Xmas tree...

But I am Friggin amazed at the Strength of spruce....
And Thats in a pot...

In the ground....

I might literally put a Louisville Slugger to it.
A hockey stick? Eh?

Pick a "character adder"....

And treat it like a pinata!

Sorce
 
Messages
475
Likes
457
Location
NE Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5a
#9
Still won't put movement or taper into a stovepipe trunk.
Some trees just aren't meant for bonsai.
Some trees are meant to be trees.
And that is the key issue I think, the trunk. Seeing as the neighbors have 3 colorados growing behind my garden, it doesn't need one so I think I'll go with @wireme's suggestion & see where it leads, if no where else but to firewood.
 
Messages
2,651
Likes
3,922
Location
on the IL-WI border, a mile from ''da Lake''
USDA Zone
5b
#10
Blue spruce will back bud to some degree, the older the wood the less reliable the back budding, but they do back bud. Don't remove more than 50% a year, actually safer would be 30 - 40% for a Max removal. Opening it up to let sun in, will stimulate back budding. As said by Wireme, pick branches you know you won't need, too straight, inside of curves, bar branches, clusters of branches. Then give it a season to recover and see if following season you have buds in interesting places.
 
Messages
475
Likes
457
Location
NE Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5a
#11
Blue spruce will back bud to some degree, the older the wood the less reliable the back budding, but they do back bud. Don't remove more than 50% a year, actually safer would be 30 - 40% for a Max removal. Opening it up to let sun in, will stimulate back budding. As said by Wireme, pick branches you know you won't need, too straight, inside of curves, bar branches, clusters of branches. Then give it a season to recover and see if following season you have buds in interesting places.
I'm looking to repot into a grow box this year. Would you prune a little of the top at the same time given how much growth is up there or leave it alone?
 
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Location
on the IL-WI border, a mile from ''da Lake''
USDA Zone
5b
#13
I would. I have a blue spruce that was neglected nursery stock. Very root bound. Looks similar to yours, but more dense. I pruned out about 30%, got rid of multiple upright sub trunks, pruned to single trunk line. Note, jinned rather than flush cut removed branches, left most bark on, to be cleaned up later.

Then I repotted. Roots were horrible, more than 50% had to be removed. It did nothing the remaining of season. I let it have the following summer off too. It grew some, but no back budding. I'm giving it this summer also to recover. Will feed heavier this year. There is some back budding starting, but not enough to take the next step in styling. The slow recovery is because so much of the root system needed to be rebuilt.

So go ahead and prune and repot at the same time, but then read the health of the tree, before deciding when it's ready for the next step. It may take more than one season to recover. Mine looks like four seasons will be needed. That's okay it was old and traumatized.
 
Messages
475
Likes
457
Location
NE Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5a
#14
I would. I have a blue spruce that was neglected nursery stock. Very root bound. Looks similar to yours, but more dense. I pruned out about 30%, got rid of multiple upright sub trunks, pruned to single trunk line. Note, jinned rather than flush cut removed branches, left most bark on, to be cleaned up later.

Then I repotted. Roots were horrible, more than 50% had to be removed. It did nothing the remaining of season. I let it have the following summer off too. It grew some, but no back budding. I'm giving it this summer also to recover. Will feed heavier this year. There is some back budding starting, but not enough to take the next step in styling. The slow recovery is because so much of the root system needed to be rebuilt.

So go ahead and prune and repot at the same time, but then read the health of the tree, before deciding when it's ready for the next step. It may take more than one season to recover. Mine looks like four seasons will be needed. That's okay it was old and traumatized.
It's been in the ground in a few different locations for a few years, but I might wait to repot till next year & work around it as I found a Robins nest inside. I'll post pics later, taken with camera not my phone. I only noticed after I found a broken egg on the ground. Saw 2 eggs, then later one was smashed again, guessing my dog must've nuzzled both out when I let her back there. The mother removed the broken one but one is still left so I'll see if she stays with it. 2nd robins next in my garden this year. First is in my largest Austrian pine. Is summer a better time to prune these after the sap flow slows down (assuming I'm correct in thinking it will in mid summer?)?
 
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3,922
Location
on the IL-WI border, a mile from ''da Lake''
USDA Zone
5b
#15
My opinion, some may disagree, in the frozen north, try pruning after summer solstice, but before the first or second week of August, leaving enough time for the back buds to form for next year's growth. Prune too late and back buds might not get made in time, so only remaining buds will grow the next spring, and back buds triggered by autumn pruning will grow the second spring. Somewhat modified version of Vance's mugo pine calendar. Your summers are quite a bit shorter than say Atlanta, GA.
 

M. Frary

Bonsai Godzilla
Messages
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15,995
Location
Mio Michigan
USDA Zone
4
#17
My opinion, some may disagree, in the frozen north, try pruning after summer solstice, but before the first or second week of August, leaving enough time for the back buds to form for next year's growth. Prune too late and back buds might not get made in time, so only remaining buds will grow the next spring, and back buds triggered by autumn pruning will grow the second spring. Somewhat modified version of Vance's mugo pine calendar. Your summers are quite a bit shorter than say Atlanta, GA.
That's the time that it should be done.
Up here they shear them with machetes for Christmas trees from July 15 to August 15.
Just as the shoots harden.
And like I keep saying if you want profuse back budding cut into the previous years growth. Cutting shoots back promotes buds on limbs but if you cut them further back they will pop buds out of old wood. Even the trunk.
 
Messages
1,897
Likes
3,216
Location
The netherlands Zone 8b
USDA Zone
8b
#18
I would. I have a blue spruce that was neglected nursery stock. Very root bound. Looks similar to yours, but more dense. I pruned out about 30%, got rid of multiple upright sub trunks, pruned to single trunk line. Note, jinned rather than flush cut removed branches, left most bark on, to be cleaned up later.

Then I repotted. Roots were horrible, more than 50% had to be removed. It did nothing the remaining of season. I let it have the following summer off too. It grew some, but no back budding. I'm giving it this summer also to recover. Will feed heavier this year. There is some back budding starting, but not enough to take the next step in styling. The slow recovery is because so much of the root system needed to be rebuilt.

So go ahead and prune and repot at the same time, but then read the health of the tree, before deciding when it's ready for the next step. It may take more than one season to recover. Mine looks like four seasons will be needed. That's okay it was old and traumatized.
I emergency repotted a blue spruce this year and like you say it doesnt show new growth or anything the needles look healthy tough this gives me hope that it might just survive
 
Messages
475
Likes
457
Location
NE Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5a
#19
That's the time that it should be done.
Up here they shear them with machetes for Christmas trees from July 15 to August 15.
Just as the shoots harden.
And like I keep saying if you want profuse back budding cut into the previous years growth. Cutting shoots back promotes buds on limbs but if you cut them further back they will pop buds out of old wood. Even the trunk.
Given the somewhat leggy growth this is the route I'll take with it this & repot next year.
 
Messages
1,055
Likes
513
Location
Downstate New York, Zone 6b
USDA Zone
6b
#20
I've killed a lot of spruce, and my experience has been that they are extremely sensitive to root/shoot work. I now religiously only give one insult per year- roots OR shoots, but not both. Yes, it takes longer to develop this way, but you can't compromise the health of the tree.