Spruce pruning

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Spruce pruning

Post  Vitusus on Sun May 08, 2016 11:09 am

Hello everyone,

As this is my first posting, I will introduce myself. I am from the Czech Republic and up to this year, I owned a few trees that I basically left growing untouched in the free soil at my mother's garden. I finally have a place where I can work on these trees systematically, so I took them out of the ground this spring and I put them into pots. Now, while they all seem to live at the moment, I have a few questions about what to do now with them.

And first tree I have a question on is this spruce - it is about 10 years old, I would say, I don't remember it exactly, grown from seed:




What I have done this spring is that I put it in this pot and I pruned the roots. Now, as you can see, this is a raw material which I would like to style into a bonsai - as a beginner, I do not look for any fancy styling, just the basic wiring and pruning as I need to learn this somehow.
The tree is basically starting to open its buds at the moment and new growth is emerging.

My question at this moment is: When should I prune this tree so that it takes some basic structure? From what I read, I should wire it only during autumn but how about pruning, when should it take place? I don't want to give the tree too much of the shock.

Thanks for the advice.

Vitusus

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  Marty Weiser on Sun May 08, 2016 10:59 pm

I would trim out the dead bits and a few of the branches that you decide will not be part of the design. I would then give it a year of growth in the pot before cutting further and doing any other styling.

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  BrendanR on Mon May 09, 2016 10:10 am

It needs all the leaves it has to regain strength UNLESS the re-pot was recent and you cut off a significant amount of roots. Then you will need to reduce the foliage.

It does not look too healthy. I would cut off only completely dead bits. I would not wire it or do anything else until it recovers. Don't feed it for 3- 4 weeks. If you see diee back then cut off the dying branches and you'll find that the style will have to be built around what survives.

Good luck!

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  Vitusus on Mon May 09, 2016 12:02 pm

BrendanR wrote:It needs all the leaves it has to regain strength UNLESS the re-pot was recent and you cut off a significant amount of roots.  Then you will need to reduce the foliage.  

It does not look too healthy.  I would cut off only completely dead bits.  I would not wire it or do anything else until it recovers.  Don't feed it for 3- 4 weeks.  If you see diee back then cut off the dying branches and you'll find that the style will have to be built around what survives.

Good luck!

I re-potted it like 3 weeks ago and I cut a good portion of its roots. I was not doing anything with it for some time and only now I want to start take a proper care.

So I will prune all the deadwood and I will let it grow to regain its strength. I will start to feed it within a month or so, so it gets prepared for the winter and we'll see how it looks during the summer, will update it with some more pictures.

Thanks for the answers.

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  beer city snake on Mon May 09, 2016 12:41 pm

Vitusus wrote:So I will prune all the deadwood and I will let it grow to regain its strength.

it would be OK to leave some deadwood behind (with no foliage on it), if you feel it may be part of the future design (jin)...

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  Marty Weiser on Mon May 09, 2016 1:31 pm

Sorry for the confusion about the deadwood in my original response. I was meaning the small twigs that are only a year or two old that don't really have any wood to them yet. As pointed out by others, bigger, thicker deadwood may be useful in the design and should be preserved until you style the tree.

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  Vitusus on Mon May 09, 2016 2:03 pm

Understood, will cut the small dead ones, probably shorten some of the bigger dead ones so that they can be used later for the design and let the tree grow for the rest of the growing season. Thank you all.

Maybe, a mod could move this thread to "Members' Trees" section, so that we can follow the progress?

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  juniper07 on Mon May 09, 2016 4:54 pm

Once your tree gains strength enough for pinching maybe by Summer of 2017, then you will pinch current year's growth back to 95%. You want to leave a bit of those fresh needles because that is where you'll get budding.

For heavy pruning like branch removal, in my experience fall is a good time when the tree is moving all the energy to the roots; again, provided your tree was healthy during the growing season. Hope this helps.

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  Leo Schordje on Mon May 09, 2016 5:21 pm

Nice spruce. After digging and putting it in a pot, I would cut nothing for the next year or two. Do not "style" the tree until the year after a year of vigorous growth.

When I collect field grown or nursery grown spruce, there is normally pretty dramatic root reduction. I DO NOT cut off foliage to "balance", The tree needs the foliage to feed the roots, and determine the amount of new roots. Foliage will generally survive. The first growing season there may be very little new growth, but that is okay. The tree is making roots. The second year there should be a big flush of vigorous growth. Then the winter following the vigorous growth is when I would do my first styling. If you do not get a vigorous flush of growth, give it a second or third season to just grow out. If you style a tree that is not in good vigorous health you run the risk of loosing the tree, and if it does live, it may be so weak that it won't grow for a couple years after the styling. It is easy to do too much in one year, and send the tree into a slow decline from which it does not recover. Only work the tree after a season of vigorous growth.

It is not a race, if you rush the tree you risk failure.

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  Vitusus on Mon May 09, 2016 7:37 pm

Thank you everyone, I think that new growth is about to emerge any day now, the buds are quite ready to open, so I will probably show some new pictures in a week or two once I find out which of the smaller branches are dead and remove them.
Let them grow! Laughing

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  AlainK on Tue May 10, 2016 8:12 am

There's an excellent article by Harry Harrington on his website:

http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATPiceaPruningstylingandwiring.htm

Don't miss the second page:

http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATPiceaPruningstylingandwiring%20page2.html

I applied the suggested technique of "The Annual Cycle of Pruning" on mine and they backbudded very well.

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  Vitusus on Tue May 10, 2016 8:41 am

Thank you very much for the link, nice article indeed.

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Dead wood pruned

Post  Vitusus on Sat May 14, 2016 2:17 pm




Ok, so I've cleaned up most of the deadwood, leaving one or two bigger branches in case I wanted to include some jins into the design. As you can see, the tree is starting to grow new shoots, so now I will just sit and water it and we'll see how vigorously it grows this year.

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  M. Frary on Sun May 15, 2016 12:57 pm

Fertilize the thing. You don't have to wait. I actually fertilize right after collection and after all repotting/root reductions. And we're talking 5 times the amount prescribed on the miracle grow box. Once per week. Unless you're an elm in my yard. I have 2 special ones. One is getting that fertilizer amount 2 times per week. And a very special one gets it daily.

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  BrendanR on Tue May 24, 2016 1:14 pm

wow MFrary you don't mess about with the feeding! What is the up side of this? Can the trees take in so much nutrition?

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  Indo Andreas on Tue May 24, 2016 1:40 pm

It looks like it recovers nicely, can't help much on tips, these trees are not growing in the tropics, but I have fun watching the progress and what tips are given.

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  M. Frary on Wed May 25, 2016 3:00 am

BrendanR wrote:wow MFrary you don't mess about with the feeding!  What is the up side of this?  Can the trees take in so much nutrition?
The tree will only take in what it needs. And Im making sure its readily available. In inorganic substrate it's possible to do because the leftover fertilizer is washed out the next day when I water.

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Update

Post  Vitusus on Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:57 pm





Hello again,

I am doing a little update of my spruce, I think it is growing nicely at the moment and hopefully it will be growing even more. Should I do anything with this year's growth or should I let it grow for the full season?

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  AlainK on Fri Jun 03, 2016 8:09 pm

The branches of "mature" Picea are making a downward angle with the trunk. On your tree, the branches grow upward, which is what saplings, or young trees do.

Wiring them downward is risky now because you might break the fragile new shoots.

I know that most people would disagree and say it's the wrong timing, but I would put it in a twice larger pot, now, without disturbing the roots too much. Add some slow-release fertiliser, and it will boom in a couple of weeks. That's what I would do.

Then, in late summer or autumn, follow Harry Harrington's advice:

http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATPiceaPruningstylingandwiring%20page2.html

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  Vitusus on Sat Jun 04, 2016 6:40 pm

AlainK wrote:The branches of "mature" Picea are making a downward angle with the trunk. On your tree, the branches grow upward, which is what saplings, or young trees do.

Wiring them downward is risky now because you might break the fragile new shoots.

I know that most people would disagree and say it's the wrong timing, but I would put it in a twice larger pot, now, without disturbing the roots too much. Add some slow-release fertiliser, and it will boom in a couple of weeks. That's what I would do.

Then, in late summer or autumn, follow Harry Harrington's advice:

http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATPiceaPruningstylingandwiring%20page2.html

Thank you Alain for your tips, just a few questions as I am still fairly new to this:

1. Though I was not saying anything about wiring it, I understand that this tree is still rather young and not fully "spruce-like" and I do not plan to do much to it this year as advised before.

2. I cannot see the point of putting it into larger container right now, as I planted it virtually few weeks ago, there must be still plenty of space for the roots to grow, why should it start growing even more in larger pot?

Thanks for making time to respond.

Regards

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  AlainK on Sun Jun 05, 2016 7:57 am

Vitusus wrote:

2. I cannot see the point of putting it into larger container right now, as I planted it virtually few weeks ago, there must be still plenty of space for the roots to grow, why should it start growing even more in larger pot?


To me, the size of the pot is not balanced with the size of the branches: it's one thirdthe width of the top. A container the same depth but wider would be better. What's more, Picea can develop a nice "nebari" with roots spreadind evently at the base, a wider pot would then help.

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Summer update

Post  Vitusus on Sun Aug 28, 2016 3:26 pm

Hello everyone,

I was cleaning some of my bonsai trees today of weeds and dead needles/leaves, so I thought it would be a good time for little update.

Alain, sorry I did not respond to your last comment, I somehow missed it. However, I get the point about the nebari and unbalanced size of the tree. However, this is in no way final size of it, I will be trying to get the foliage closer to the trunk as you can see on the picture that especially the lower branches are quite leggy and without foliage.



I removed a few more dead branches today, mostly small ones, that I missed at the beginning of summer. I think that it looks better than in the spring when I was repotting it and I already see plenty of new buds on the branches, prepared for next year. I was thinking about it and I want to ask when and how should I prune it next year, as I need to start getting it closer to the trunk.

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  AlainK on Sun Aug 28, 2016 6:42 pm

Vitusus wrote:
(...) Alain, sorry I did not respond to your last comment, (...)

No worries, and I can see that your tree is in a much better shape now.

I still think the pot is too small though: picea can develop very nice "nebari" when planted in the right-sized pot, and the branches should really be bent downward in my opinion... Wink

I checked the name of your city, Oprava, to see where you live exactly to figure out what your climate might be, I wondered if you lived in the Tatra mountains, but apparently, it's a region which is not so mountainous. Yet, you must have a continental climate with harsh winter, right? ... And I was very surprised to see the flag and coat of arms of your city: I have remote family across the border, in Walbrzych, in Katowice, and my roots in Zakopane, so it made me smile to see a white and red flag with a white eagle Laughing

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Re: Spruce pruning

Post  Vitusus on Sun Aug 28, 2016 7:25 pm

I agree with that bending part but I did not want to do too much to the tree in one year. I will probably wire it next year near the end of summer when hopefully some backbudding will already be achieved and I think that the canopy will be reduced by that time a bit more to make the tree more compact.

As for the pot, I may eventually opt for a bigger pot but not at the moment, still, at next repotting I will have to examine the root system more closely. I will probably take a shoot of what is visible at this moment, so that you get the idea of what we can work with.

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Re: Spruce pruning

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