Engelmann Spruce (Picea engelmannii) progression

coh

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I’ll see Ryan in a couple of weeks and I plan to ask him about this, because he told us the same thing when I did my Elongating Species courses, but on the live streams with the cascade Engelmann, they did pinch to re-distribute energy without looking for buds. Maybe the thinking is that stimulating the weaker shoots takes priority at that time and you can always replace a terminal shoot with one of the new buds that will form at its base.
Yes, this is how he described it at the time (keep in mind that was 1.5 or 2 years ago, so his experience since may have led to changes in his approach).

1) Pinch new shoots as they are extending in the spring. Pinch strong shoots first, then as others strengthen and extend, pinch those later. Weakest shoots may not be pinched.
2) Those pinched shoots will generally not produce buds along the new growth, but should produce 1+ buds at the base and possibly other buds further back.
3) Next year those new buds will extend and develop. You would then leave 2 of them, thus gaining ramification at that location (old residual shoot which will die back can be removed)

The part that isn't clear to me is, what happens to those new shoots that grow in step 3 - if they get too big and you pinch them, then you'll once again be causing them to produce buds at the base and you won't gain anything? So presumably you'd have to let them grow out. Maybe the idea is that you get to a point with enough ramification that those shoots don't get too long. Or maybe you keep cutting back to growth that is stimulated further back on the branches.

@PiñonJ , please do see if you can get any updates from Ryan on this issue - that would be much appreciated! Maybe I'll rejoin level 3 this winter so I can ask some questions directly.

Chris
 

Adair M

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Interesting discussion.

My Colorado Blue Spruce that died, I wired in spring after shoots had opened. Larry Jackel taught us how to pinch out the tips so we wouldn’t harm the needles on the stem.

At any rate, the tree died. I mean, it died quickly! Maybe it was the wiring. Maybe it was the pinching. I don’t know.

This past spring, I took another workshop using another Blue Spruce with Larry. I didn’t pinch it, even though he was teaching others to do it. I did wire it. And it’s living just fine. So, the one I pinched, died. The one I did not pinch is thriving.

There are tons of buds all over. Buds at the terminals, buds at the base of the new shoots, buds along the strong new shoots, buds forming on the stems farther back.

Now, this is a Colorado Blue, not and Engelmann, so there may be varietal differences to consider. (My Atlas cedars act the same way.)
 

PiñonJ

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My Colorado Blue Spruce that died, I wired in spring after shoots had opened. Larry Jackel taught us how to pinch out the tips so we wouldn’t harm the needles on the stem.

At any rate, the tree died. I mean, it died quickly! Maybe it was the wiring. Maybe it was the pinching. I don’t know.

This past spring, I took another workshop using another Blue Spruce with Larry. I didn’t pinch it, even though he was teaching others to do it. I did wire it. And it’s living just fine.
Your tree died because you did major work on it right after the buds opened. That is the worst time. You might get away with just wiring, but it is not ideal.
This past spring, I took another workshop using another Blue Spruce with Larry. I didn’t pinch it, even though he was teaching others to do it. I did wire it. And it’s living just fine. So, the one I pinched, died. The one I did not pinch is thriving.

There are tons of buds all over. Buds at the terminals, buds at the base of the new shoots, buds along the strong new shoots, buds forming on the stems farther back.

Now, this is a Colorado Blue, not and Engelmann, so there may be varietal differences to consider. (My Atlas cedars act the same way.)
There are buds all over because you let it grow. It’s vascular traffic that stimulates bud formation, not pinching. Pinching just stimulates existing back buds to open.
 

Arcto

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I styled an Englemann the previous fall, severe bends and wired to the tips. I lost a few smaller branches and the tree didn’t do much this season. However by the end of summer, I had backbudding all over the place. Next year looks pretty optimistic. It is also still in a post collection pot with mostly native soil.
 

PiñonJ

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Yes, this is how he described it at the time (keep in mind that was 1.5 or 2 years ago, so his experience since may have led to changes in his approach).

1) Pinch new shoots as they are extending in the spring. Pinch strong shoots first, then as others strengthen and extend, pinch those later. Weakest shoots may not be pinched.
2) Those pinched shoots will generally not produce buds along the new growth, but should produce 1+ buds at the base and possibly other buds further back.
3) Next year those new buds will extend and develop. You would then leave 2 of them, thus gaining ramification at that location (old residual shoot which will die back can be removed)

Maybe the idea is that you get to a point with enough ramification that those shoots don't get too long.
So, I did ask Ryan about this process, and his current technique is in line with what you're thinking. You pinch a tree transitioning to refinement in order to balance energy, then prune new shoots from the resulting whorl of buds. Soon enough, you get to a point where the ramification and foliage are fine enough and even enough that you don't have to pinch. It's an amazing thing to see, when it happens. I seem to be there already with my Subalpine Fir. I styled it this spring and thought I would have to pinch after the buds opened, but the new growth was so even and fine that there were only a couple of shoots that I pinched. In fall I pruned threes and fours down to twos. Easy-peasy 😁 Of course, if you keep your trees healthy, then they will cycle through refinement to over-growth, and you have to transition them to a showable state again, pruning to advance the design to a more ancient image.
 

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So, I did ask Ryan about this process, and his current technique is in line with what you're thinking. You pinch a tree transitioning to refinement in order to balance energy, then prune new shoots from the resulting whorl of buds. Soon enough, you get to a point where the ramification and foliage are fine enough and even enough that you don't have to pinch. It's an amazing thing to see, when it happens. I seem to be there already with my Subalpine Fir. I styled it this spring and thought I would have to pinch after the buds opened, but the new growth was so even and fine that there were only a couple of shoots that I pinched. In fall I pruned threes and fours down to twos. Easy-peasy 😁 Of course, if you keep your trees healthy, then they will cycle through refinement to over-growth, and you have to transition them to a showable state again, pruning to advance the design to a more ancient image.

Great, thank you for getting back to us on this.
 

coh

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So, I did ask Ryan about this process, and his current technique is in line with what you're thinking. You pinch a tree transitioning to refinement in order to balance energy, then prune new shoots from the resulting whorl of buds. Soon enough, you get to a point where the ramification and foliage are fine enough and even enough that you don't have to pinch. It's an amazing thing to see, when it happens. I seem to be there already with my Subalpine Fir. I styled it this spring and thought I would have to pinch after the buds opened, but the new growth was so even and fine that there were only a couple of shoots that I pinched. In fall I pruned threes and fours down to twos. Easy-peasy 😁 Of course, if you keep your trees healthy, then they will cycle through refinement to over-growth, and you have to transition them to a showable state again, pruning to advance the design to a more ancient image.
Yes, thanks for checking on this! Interesting to hear that his approach hasn't changed over time.
 

Adair M

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Again, may I say this is an interesting thread! I just went back and reread all the posts.

I now have three varieties of spruce. A Colorado Blue spruce yamadori, three landscape Norway spruce, and a yamadori Ezo spruce.
I went and made a careful examination of each type’s foliage. And they’re all a little different in where they bud out and back bud.

Colorado Blue: it will bud out from the terminal, primarily, with usually a single bud, but sometimes multiple terminal buds. It back buds primarily at old nodes. On last years growth, there were a few buds produced on the stem, but not everywhere.

Norway: buds out at the terminal, usually in groups of three. Back buds at old nodes. Last years growth had buds along the stem everyinch or so, each of which is budding out this year.

Ezo: buds out at the terminal,usually a single bud. Rarely makes multiple terminal buds. Back buds at old nodes. I did not observe any buds along the length of last year’s growth. There were several stems where I could see that a single bud had grown from the terminal, lengthening the stem by an inch, for several years, with no secondary shoots being developed. The other two varieties appear much more prone to create secondary branches.

sorry, I had no Engleman or SubAlpine spruce to compare.

My conclusion is some spruce naturally make internodal buds, and others don’t. For those that do, you can let the new shoots extend, and later cut back to them. For the species that don’t make internodal buds, pinching new shoots will force the production of buds at the base of the new shoot as well as at the base of old nodes.
 

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I honestly cannot remember. Maybe that's part of the problem? I will definitely take that into account as I prefer to do work in the spring no matter the species.
So what species do you wait till after the summer solstice to wire versus wiring in the spring? We acquired this engelmann spruce two years ago and have done nothing but just look at it pretty much. Would now be a good time to wire it?
Two views are flat and the one view with it leaning towards the right it's tilted towards the viewer.
It's from the Black hills collected by is it Randy Smith? Or is there an Andy Smith?
 

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Also we do want to do more work on the jin to make it look a little more realistic and not stark white and of course it will go into a much deserved custom pot at some point. What is the best time to repot engelmann spruce? I was thinking of doing it next year possibly...
Sorry not trying to hijack this thread. I can start a new one if you wish @PiñonJ
 
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So what species do you wait till after the summer solstice to wire versus wiring in the spring? We acquired this engelmann spruce two years ago and have done nothing but just look at it pretty much. Would now be a good time to wire it?
Two views are flat and the one view with it leaning towards the right it's tilted towards the viewer.
It's from the Black hills collected by is it Randy Smith? Or is there an Andy Smith?
I have had better success wiring spruce in late August, early fall. Poor results wiring in the winter or early spring. Also I tend to use lighter gauge copper wire and take more time with application. When wiring the tips I use a looser wrap to create a cage for support of the new growth rather than wrap the branch to the tip. This is a technique I also apply to sub alpine fir for similar reasons. branches are quite flexible and the new growth needles susceptible to breakage,
For repotting I prefer to do so late winter, early spring before bud break.
The Ezo and Engleman are the spruce I work with primarily.
 

PiñonJ

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So what species do you wait till after the summer solstice to wire versus wiring in the spring? We acquired this engelmann spruce two years ago and have done nothing but just look at it pretty much. Would now be a good time to wire it?
Two views are flat and the one view with it leaning towards the right it's tilted towards the viewer.
It's from the Black hills collected by is it Randy Smith? Or is there an Andy Smith?
It's Andy Smith. The best time to do any major work on a spruce is in spring, as the buds are just starting to show some green, or are so swollen that they are going to within days. If you work them before that, I would give them winter protection until they are growing. If you wait until the buds are open, it's too late. Do only one major operation in a season, i.e. either major root work, or major foliage work, but not both. The second best time to work them is early fall.
 

Mayank

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It's Andy Smith. The best time to do any major work on a spruce is in spring, as the buds are just starting to show some green, or are so swollen that they are going to within days. If you work them before that, I would give them winter protection until they are growing. If you wait until the buds are open, it's too late. Do only one major operation in a season, i.e. either major root work, or major foliage work, but not both. The second best time to work them is early fall.
So looking at the pic above (taken today, I'm in SE Michigan, highs in 50s 60s, lows in 30s for next few days) I should wait then till I see green in the buds?
 

PiñonJ

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So looking at the pic above (taken today, I'm in SE Michigan, highs in 50s 60s, lows in 30s for next few days) I should wait then till I see green in the buds?
The buds look swollen in the photos, so you're probably OK, but it doesn't hurt to wait until you just start to see some green through the sheaths.
 
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