Spruce Repotting questions

karen82

Mame
Messages
120
Reaction score
92
Location
Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5
I have a co blue spruce nursery tree that needs to be repotted this spring - probably in a few weeks.
It's a nursery tree; I purchased it summer 2017; since it was very healthy I opted to trim it back before repotting. I left it untouched except very minor pruning all last year, so it should be recovered and ready to repot.

My questions are:

1) How much soil can I safely remove? I know spruce can't be fully barerooted, I've read mixed things. Some places say to bareroot half the rootball at a time, other places say this will cause dieback of branches, and it's best just to remove soil evenly. I plan to saw off the bottom few inches of the rootball, rake out loose soil, just not sure how much soil I can remove safely. It's only a cheap nursery tree but I still want to keep it alive and healthy.

2) Can I do any wiring/bending when repotting? I know it's best to only do one major procedure per season on spruce.. but I gather that the main risk from wiring is just from root disturbance (since spruce have such flexible branches). So if the roots are being disturbed anyway, would wiring be harmful to the tree?
 

K_10_G

Seedling
Messages
13
Reaction score
26
Location
Washingtons crossing, NJ
USDA Zone
6b
Hi Karen do you have any pictures available ? I would be careful with the saw 1/2 off the bottom method, especially with un-worked nursery material the nebari could be all the way down there. Safer to dig down from the top first and establish where the roots begin, then remove however much more from the bottom / sides to get to that 50% mark.
 

Cofga

Chumono
Messages
913
Reaction score
819
Location
Western NC
USDA Zone
7a
I have the same situation as I have a CBS and a Norway spruce to repot, both purchased last summer/fall. The Norway was heavily styled and pruned last August nut put out a lot of backbuds. I am waiting now to see what is does before I decide whether to do any root disturbance now or wait until late summer. It will all depend on how nealthy it is and how well it bounces back.

As to the CBS I have not touched it yet. It is just waking up now and it does need at least basic pruning to remove excess branches so some light can get into the interior. Depedning on how much has to be removed I will likely saw off the lower 1/3 of the root ball, replace as much of the center soil mass as I can get out, and possibly do a half bare root soil replacement on the rest. If the pruning has to be extensive I will just rake out as much of the nursery soil as possible trying to do as little root damage as possible. It is important to get it into bonsai soil mix soon to keep it healthy.

Now as to wiring. This is not as easy an operstion for the tree as you seem to think. When you wire you end up bending the branches and acutally breaking the cambium and vascular tissues, along with the cross links of the woody structure. It takes the tree energy to fix all that. It is this mending of the breaks that sets the branch in the new direction. Think of it as the way you would mend a broken bone. So the general rule for most confiers is to not attemp more than one major opertion in any 12 month period. You may be able to do a light fall styling and then a spring repot if both are not major operations, especially if the tree is really healthy. I suggest you go to bonsai4me.com and read Harry’s 2 page article on working spruce. Good luck.
 
Last edited:

karen82

Mame
Messages
120
Reaction score
92
Location
Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5
All I have are photos from last fall, it's currently buried under snow.
The nebari is way down there, some of those lower branches appear to join the trunk at least an inch or two under the soil level. And this is with all the loose soil scraped away already.
2018-10-17.JPG2018-10-17 (3).JPG
 

karen82

Mame
Messages
120
Reaction score
92
Location
Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5
The snow finally melted here and I decided to repot this tree.
I removed over 3/4 of the rootball volume (and probably 50% of the roots) to uncover the nebari. Even so I really just barely uncovered it, but I was already afraid I removed too much.
I did not remove ANY foliage, just the bottom-most 'branch' which turned out to actually be a separate small tree.
There weren't many fine roots or any mychorrizae that I noticed - is that just due to the time of year? Tree seemed healthy otherwise.

On the mound of removed nursery soil.
a 001.JPG

This one gives a good view of just how much of the trunk was buried in the nursery pot (the dark area was all underground).
a 002.JPG

And potted up. I know it's an ugly tree and will need a year or two to recover from that repotting before I can even work on it. I wouldn't get another spruce now that I know more about them. That said, I do want to keep this one alive and healthy.
a 004.JPG
 

Saddler

Chumono
Messages
668
Reaction score
807
Location
Vancouver, British Columbia
Walter Pall said he bare roots spruce but doesn’t cut the roots at all except when there are too many, every ten or fifteen years. Just stuffs them into the pot. I tried that on my very old spruce last fall and it seems to be fine. The buds are starting to swell, so I will know in a couple months.
 

Similar threads


Top Bottom