Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

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Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  madonnaswimmer on Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:04 am

I'm a beginner-- I have 2 trees but they're not much to look at. Started Bonsai within the last year.

I found this Colorado Blue Spruce for $7 at the Home Depot. Figured it was cheap enough to take a risk. But I do have the option of returning it if the board decides it stinks!

I can't find a lot of info on this species and how well it might work as a Bonsai.

I was thinking to do an informal upright.

Here are some photos. There seems to at least be equal foliage around the tree with no huge gaps or missing branches, which is more than I can say for my other trees! You cannot tell much from the photo, but the trunk does at least have some element of taper, which again is more than I can say for at least one of my other trees.

Front (?):


Right Side (1/4 turn right):


Back:


Left :


So, is this worthwhile? Or should I return it back to the home depot?

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  Auballagh on Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:56 am

Looks pretty good to me. A big consideration is your location. In southeastern Virginia where I live, the summer heat croaks these Blue Spruce trees unmercifully unless they're planted in the ground. But, in Milwaukee they should do fine for you. I believe an informal upright would work great. I like the little curve the trunk does close to the base. Still, you'll need to scrape out the soil top cover and re-pot this tree in a well-draining soil mix. Hopefully, you'll have a very nice root base (Nebari) underneath that old soil layer. Smile

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Colorado Blue Spruce

Post  bonsaisr on Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:52 am

CBS is not a prime bonsai subject, but it is done. I have a little shohin yamadori that I got last year at the Denver convention. Not sure how to find it on the Search, but Walter Pall had some good information on spruces last year.
Milwaukee must have a bonsai club. Join it before you do any thing with your tree. They will help you. I think you should consider shortening it considerably and bringing up a branch for the new leader. You will need to style the tree before you repot it, or style it & wait till next year to repot.
Iris

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  madonnaswimmer on Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:19 am

Yes, Milwaukee has a bonsai club, and I am a member. Our next meeting is tomorrow-- maybe I'll get some tips there.

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  Twisted Trees on Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:02 pm

I've not come across a good looking CBS that doesn't have significant age. The issue seems to be developing good foliage pads. Look for other trees to occupy your time while you wait on this one. I'd wire the trunk into a nice contorted shape (I am "Twisted Trees after all) and expose some roots. Fertilize heavily and go for maximum growth for a long while.

Maybe some small Christmas ornaments as well!

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  Leo Schordje on Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:09 am

Looks like a nice tree. Its got some potential. I personally would use this tree to learn how to grow spruce, and the bud and needle management techniques for spruce on this one. Then down the road, when you feel confident, you will have the experience to handle an old collected Black Hills spruce or other more venerable specimens of old collected spruce. Generally the bonsai techniques for spruce pretty much apply to all spruces, so learning on this one will transfer over. And who knows, in 15 years or so this blue spruce could look really nice.

Really, it has lots of branches to work with, I'd say see what you can do with it. It will teach you a few things.

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  madonnaswimmer on Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:17 pm

Thanks for the advice!

After speaking with the Milwaukee Bonsai Society members yesterday, my plan is to expose some of the roots to get a better idea of how tall to make the tree. Some members thought I shouldn't shorten it yet, but that one leader at the top is pretty scraggly, so I don't think I'll keep it.

The members there suggested I choose between repotting into a bonsai pot OR styling the tree, and not doing both. If I repot, they think I should style next year, and vice versa. Someone also suggested I could keep it in a "regular" pot, but swap out the soil for bonsai soil (without cutting the roots) an style it this year. What do you think?

Also, this is my first conifer. When is the best time of year for repotting, styling, and just cleaning up/cutting back a bit?

Time to go back to my bonsai books!

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  madonnaswimmer on Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:27 pm

Twisted Trees wrote:I'd wire the trunk into a nice contorted shape (I am "Twisted Trees after all)

Yay! I might do this (despite other members who have told me in the past to never wire a trunk)! I like the gentle curve it has at the very bottom. It will be interesting to see what the roots have in store for me.

Leo Schordje wrote:And who knows, in 15 years or so this blue spruce could look really nice.

That's what I'm hoping! Good cheap practice now and hopefully a good tree later!

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  JimLewis on Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:31 pm

The members there suggested I choose between repotting into a bonsai pot OR styling the tree, and not doing both. If I repot, they think I should style next year, and vice versa. Someone also suggested I could keep it in a "regular" pot, but swap out the soil for bonsai soil (without cutting the roots) an style it this year. What do you think?

Also, this is my first conifer. When is the best time of year for repotting, styling, and just cleaning up/cutting back a bit?

Consider this a (very) general comment on conifer bonsai (I can't recall ever seeing a blue spruce bonsai -- anywhere): It's better not to do any root work and heavy top work in the same year.

As for when, as usual, the answer is early spring, with early fall a possible, but not-as-good alternative period.

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  Leo Schordje on Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:21 pm

personally, I'd repot this year, this month, put off all top work until next year. You need to see the base where the roots start before you can begin to plan styling the tree. repotting will accomplis this. Then you have all summer to contemplate what to cut and what to keep. One major operation per year.

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  Just Mike on Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:33 pm

i wouldnt do any styling on a spruce at this time of the year...wait until fall after the sap flow slows way down...they bleed like crazy...so any hard pruning, or bending is best done in fall...at this time of the year, the only thing to do is repot, and keep it healthy...after the new growth extends an inch or 2 (mid spring) is when you would do your pinching, but on this tree i would let it just grow and recover for a season first...

a couple more things to keep in mind...dont get over-zelous and prune too much...seriously...dont go lopping off a bunch of branches and expect the tree to respond well...they arent the easiest to get to back bud anyway, so be selective and keep in mind, once the branch is gone, you may never be able to grow a new one to fill the space...

a habbit i have got into with my spruce is to not remove an entire branch all the way to the trunk...ill take it off and leave 1/3 or more and just let the rest die back naturally...its easier on the tree that way and leaves the option for jin...it can always be removed entirely later if you want (and by that time the sap flow has already adjusted)...

just my opinion.

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  AlainK on Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:39 pm

Hi,

There's a very good article on Harry Harrington's website:

Picea/Spruce Bonsai Styling, Pruning and Wiring

I followed his advice on "The Annual Cycle of Pruning" and I had very good results on my CBSs.

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  madonnaswimmer on Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:26 pm

Leo Schordje wrote:personally, I'd repot this year, this month, put off all top work until next year. You need to see the base where the roots start before you can begin to plan styling the tree. repotting will accomplis this. Then you have all summer to contemplate what to cut and what to keep. One major operation per year.

Yes, this is what I was thinking as well. Plus, from an aesthetic standpoint, I'd much rather see a scraggly tree in a nice pot than a wired tree in a junky pot. Just me. (My partner is doing the opposite with her newly-bought juniper).

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  madonnaswimmer on Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:30 pm

Just Mike wrote:a habbit i have got into with my spruce is to not remove an entire branch all the way to the trunk...ill take it off and leave 1/3 or more and just let the rest die back naturally...its easier on the tree that way and leaves the option for jin...it can always be removed entirely later if you want (and by that time the sap flow has already adjusted).

Great idea!



AlainK, thanks for the website-- I printed it off so I can take it with me.

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  JimLewis on Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:10 pm

Plus, from an aesthetic standpoint, I'd much rather see a scraggly tree in a nice pot than a wired tree in a junky pot.

Unless you have a fairly large bonsai pot (2x the final size), you do NOT want this tree in a bonsai pot. It needs roots to stay healthy so it can support the top work next year.

I prefer to work from the opposite direction: Work on the top over the summer, then repot (again into a slightly larger pot) bext year. Better for the tree (IMO).

_________________
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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

Post  Just Mike on Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:40 pm

JimLewis wrote:
Plus, from an aesthetic standpoint, I'd much rather see a scraggly tree in a nice pot than a wired tree in a junky pot.

Unless you have a fairly large bonsai pot (2x the final size), you do NOT want this tree in a bonsai pot. It needs roots to stay healthy so it can support the top work next year.

I prefer to work from the opposite direction: Work on the top over the summer, then repot (again into a slightly larger pot) bext year. Better for the tree (IMO).

i agree with Jim on this...dont be in too much of a hurry to get it into a "bonsai" pot...in my mind, pots are kinda like very nice picture frames...they can add a great deal to a lovely painting...but you should probably finish paininting before putting the picture into the frame...

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Re: Colorado Blue Spruce-- worth it? (pics)

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