Noobie dwarf Alberta spruce

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Location
Augusta, KS
USDA Zone
6b
#1
I've been killing little trees for maybe 8 or 10 years now and just lurking here on the Nut sight. Thought maybe I'd let you all beat on me a little.
I have been avoiding DAS like the plague then I accidentally saw this one. Fat trunk in a little pot and in my budget so I brought it home. Now help me. I'm not afraid of killing it, but some small hope for survival would be nice.
DSC_0061.JPG DSC_0064.JPG
I think I want to shorten it and grow a new leader with more taper and some movement. Maybe on on these cuts:
cut1.jpg
The upper cut would remove an ugly bulge and about half the healthiest foliage. The lower cut would get me closer to the branch I think I could pull up for a new trunk. I am considering going even lower.
What think you?
 

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205
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Location
Augusta, KS
USDA Zone
6b
#3
I whacked it off last night. Can I go lower and still expect good recovery? I want to chop back to about 1/2 the height I am at, but wonder if I should let it recover for a year or two now. Or maybe go with what it is now? since spruce and pines don't always show a lot of taper.
View attachment 162010 View attachment 162011
 

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Location
Pasadena, MD
USDA Zone
7A
#4
leave it be and get it into good soil next spring (read up on half bare rooting) You can probably still get in one or two more feeds. full sun.
 
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135
Location
Pennsylvania, USA
#5
I would go as low as the first set of branches and choose a new leader from one of those for better taper, but that is me.

I'm no expert either.
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
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26,382
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
#8
You dont have to remove it all straight away..,.

Just have a plan to keep it from negatively affecting what you will keep.

Then it has a positive health affect!

In time when the tree you are designing down to shows itself strong enough...
Cut the top off.

For now, just bend it out the way so it dont shade your keeper!

Sorce
 
Messages
205
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200
Location
Augusta, KS
USDA Zone
6b
#9
Thanks for the advice, all.
I'll show y'all what I ended up doing in a day or two.
 
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205
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200
Location
Augusta, KS
USDA Zone
6b
#10
Here's what I ended up with. The new leader is the one going up and to the right. Added some ugly wiring just to pull branches back and away. I'll let it grow out next year and take a look at it again next September. Alberta_chopped.JPG
 
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805
Location
Grants Pass, Oregon, USA
USDA Zone
7
#11
I guess that's one option that pretty well eliminates all others. Can't say I like the approach, but it's your five bucks. I just think you could have done something with the trunk for a very dynamic design. And been well ahead in the game plan.
I would have suggested, when I saw the first pic, but now, well maybe a next one, working the trunk down one side a big a shari, running a lower branch up to form a new apex along side the jin remnants of the old trunk. Something like that.
I don't understand why you begin by asking for help and before you get any input you just whack the thing off like you'll just grow another piece of wood like what you cut, from one of those little lower branches. You did get one bit of sound advice and that was to leave it be.
 
Messages
205
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200
Location
Augusta, KS
USDA Zone
6b
#12
Well, I guess human nature is to accept advice that aligns with what we had really wanted. And I am perhaps too impatient to do something NOW. And your ideas might have been a legitimate direction to take, except maybe, I am not a big fan of shari. Just my preference. Now if you had a good suggestion for making this tree into root-over-rock, I'm all ears!

I did not like the trunk except for the fact that it is fat (for the size of pot). It has zero discernible taper and at least 2 ugly bulges. The curve was nice, but not enough to save it. The only other redeeming value of the tree is the abundance of small branches on the lower trunk.
So, without the advice I got I would have either cut it off just below the upper ugly bulge or all the way down to the selected branch. As is I think I stuck a middle path with a good chance of survival and advancement.
I anticipate this tree being in development for several (many?) years, perhaps even going into the ground to grow for a while. If I am able I hope to update this thread occasionally so others can see what not to do.
 

M. Frary

Bonsai Godzilla
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Location
Mio Michigan
USDA Zone
4
#13
We've all been there.
You'll soon learn to get lots of trees so you have something to do. There will still be periods where you do nothing but water,fertilize and watch them grow.
Neglect goes a long way in bonsai.
I used feel about deadwood like you do. Still do to some extent. The whole jin,shari,deadwood thing can be taken too far. But some trees need a little extra window dressing to get them to that old looking tree.
And as you progress along with your trees you learn what a tree needs or not.
I personally would just keep this on the bench and not worry about growing it out.
Alberta spruce don't make the best subjects for bonsai. But there are a few people working with them.
Hard to get to back bud and the branches don't like to stay in shape after wire has been taken off.
But since it's there already use it for practice. Keep it alive. Learn it's growth habits.
And good luck.
 
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731
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Location
Grants Pass, Oregon, USA
USDA Zone
7
#14
Having been there and done that I feel I can speak freely. I do understand your opening statement. If you want to move on to keeping trees alive there are a few basic rules you must adhere to. Basic rules, rules of thumb, guide lines, you can bend them sometimes, but try not to break them outright.
One very important rule of conifers is never remove more than one third, roots, foliage or wood, at a time. Another guide line to be aware of pertains to dwarf variety's in particular. I have learned this by years of growing dwarfs, dwarfs don't make wood, not like normal trees. That's what makes them dwarf. Ask anyone who has cut the top off a dwarf maple and never seen it get any taller. They tend to make excessive foliage to compensate. When you chop a DAS that's it. You'll be lucky if it lives and it does it will be many years in recovery before you see positive growth again. I have grown a couple of dozen of these and a hard chop is the last thing you want to do to them. After exhausting every other possible avenue. You have to urge them along in little steps, keeping the one third rule in mind, and you will see great success with this tree.
 
Messages
205
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200
Location
Augusta, KS
USDA Zone
6b
#16
This thing grew well. Wire was biting in by June. This picture is from last week.
DSC_0014.JPG DSC_0014 (2).JPG
So I cut it down to the branch I want for a new leader.
DSC_0015 (2).JPG DSC_0016 (2).JPG
Maybe too much this time, but if it survives I'll have a nice joggle.
I'll put some wire or something on that new trunk to put some bends in it.

And, yes, I know I am still not following the majority of advice I have been offered on this thread. But thank you anyway and feel free to tell everyone who might see this thread what I should have done differently.
 
Messages
170
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74
Location
Richmond, VA
USDA Zone
7a
#17
Looking forward to seeing it's progress over the next several year. Dwarf Alberta Spruce grow very slowly, I have a couple I'm working on right now. Also, the branches don't hold their positions very well after you wire them, you'll have to wire and re-wire many times to get them to stay put. That being said, there are some beautiful examples out there...
 
Messages
205
Likes
200
Location
Augusta, KS
USDA Zone
6b
#18
Looking forward to seeing it's progress over the next several year. Dwarf Alberta Spruce grow very slowly, I have a couple I'm working on right now. Also, the branches don't hold their positions very well after you wire them, you'll have to wire and re-wire many times to get them to stay put. That being said, there are some beautiful examples out there...
Thank you. I think it needs a couple of years now to just grow back. Maybe if I can manage to keep my pruners off it.
I will update here periodically.
 

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