How to trim a blue spruce pine tree
How to Shape a Blue Spruce | Home Guides
By Kathryn Jones Updated October 08, 2019
Considered one of the most popular evergreens, blue spruce (Picea pungens) is an ornamental tree featuring silvery blue needles, 3- to 4-inch pine cones and tan or gray bark. Most blue spruce cultivars are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 2 through 7, but the fast-growing “Hoopsii” blue spruce (Picea pungens "Hoopsii") is hardy in USDA zones 2 through 8.
Often used as a Christmas tree, the blue spruce requires only moderate maintenance and, when properly cared for, some varieties can live 600 or more years. Some kinds of blue spruce have a mature height of 100 or more feet; the "Hoopsii" variety grows up to 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Pruning blue spruce to a desired shape is well within the skill of most homeowners.
Examine your blue spruce tree once each winter, looking for dead, diseased, broken, insect-infested and competing branches from the tree's top downward. A branch that is more than one-third of the trunk's diameter is a branch that competes with the trunk. A blue spruce is dormant during winter.
Remove all dead, diseased, broken, insect-infested and competing branches by cutting them with sharp, one-hand-operated pruning shears while wearing gardening or work gloves. Cut high dead and diseased branches with a pole pruner. Cut each dead or diseased branch close to the tree's trunk but just after the branch collar, which is where the branch and trunk meet. Prune each broken branch at the break, and prune each insect-infested branch at the trunk. Trim each branch that competes with the trunk close to the trunk. Pruning cuts are less visible and more aesthetically pleasing when made close to the trunk. Make each cut at a slight angle.
Prune dead and diseased branches that have brown needles, cutting them close to the blue spruce's trunk but just after the branch collar by using the sharp pruning shears or pole pruner.
Shape the blue spruce in accordance with its natural taper, working from the top down. A blue spruce is narrowest at its top, referred to as the tree's crown. It is widest at its bottom. Pruning more than one-quarter of a tree’s total crown in one season is not recommended. Trim branches that protrude beyond the tree's natural, tapered shape by cutting them at the optimal length to achieve tapering.
Eliminate branches growing in an undesirable direction by cutting them close to the trunk. Trimming bottom branches of blue spruce creates a neater appearance, and makes it easier to reach underneath the tree to rake or apply mulch.
Create even spacing among branches by eliminating branches in thick sections of the tree to match the spacing in thinner sections.
Things You Will Need
Pruning blue spruce excessively causes undue stress that can kill the tree. If your spruce is especially unkempt, plan to shape it in stages by pruning unwanted branches over a period of a few years.
Do not shape a blue spruce by completely cutting off its top because that may lead to decay and disease.
- Washington State University Clark County Extension: Hoopsii Colorado Blue Spruce -- Picea pungens "Hoopsii"
- Arbor Day Foundation: Spruce, Colorado Blue -- Picea Pungens
- U.S. National Park Service: Blue Spruce -- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Arbor Day Foundation: Tree Care Tips and Techniques
Kathryn Jones is a versatile style writer and passionate gardener with nearly 15 years’ experience in both fields. She enjoys sharing best practices on a host of gardening topics, including container gardening, organic gardening, water gardening, composting and gluten-free recipes from the garden.
6 Simple Steps To Keeping A Blue Spruce Tree Small
In recent times, the idea of smaller trees has gotten more and more popular. With this, most trees prefer to grow very large if they are allowed to, so how can you keep a blue spruce tree small?
Typical Blue spruce trees grow 12 inches or less per year. To keep your blue spruce tree small, you’ll want to prune the tree each year during the late winter/early spring. You can also choose a small blue spruce variety, like the baby blue eyes spruce, which grows 2-3 inches per year.
While their are dwarf blue spruce varieties, read on to learn more about what a blue spruce needs, how it grows, and steps you can take to keep it small and manageable!
Just to add – when you shop using links from Tree Journey, we may earn affiliate commissions if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Blue Spruce Tree Basics
As mentioned, to know how to keep your blue spruce small, you first need to know the wants and needs of your tree, so that you can provide and alter them to affect the tree.
Requirements Of Blue Spruce Trees
To start, blue spruce trees need full sun. This means that you need to find a location that provides adequate (full) sun exposure. You can, however, use this to your advantage if you want to keep your blue spruce small. If you slightly decrease the amount of sun, but not by too much, it can slow the growth of your tree without hurting it.
In addition to sun requirements, blue spruce trees require semi-moist, well-draining soil. This means you need to water regularly. However, you have to find or make soil with particulates such as sand or large organic matter so that the water can drain off.
Blue spruce trees can also adapt to drier winds and soils, meaning they are not too picky in those regards. However, you will need to work with your tree to find what it specifically needs in your area.
Similar to other plants, spruces also may like slightly acidic soil and extra nutrients. Although, they do not require them to grow successfully.
Growth Of Blue Spruce Trees
On average, blue spruce varieties are categorized as medium to slow growers. According to information from the Utah State University Cooperative Extension, established blue spruce trees generally grow up to 12 inches per year.
With vertical growth also comes horizontal growth, which needs to be considered if you want to keep your blue spruce small.
Going along with this, if some factors for your spruce are limited to a safe extent, such as sunlight and water, your spruce may grow slower without sustaining any damage.
Blue Spruce Tree Roots
It is also good to mention that most spruce trees often have shallow and wide root systems. This is important to know, for watering and fertilizing reasons.
During their first year of growth, blue spruce tree roots only penetrate the soil about 2.5 inches.
Thus, you don’t have to absolutely soak the soil underneath the blue spruce tree to water it.
This means that while pruning and keeping your blue spruce small, you should be careful, as you don’t want to impact or stress out the root system too much.
Picking The Right Blue Spruce Variety To Keep It Small
Another thing to keep in mind when wanting small blue spruce is picking out a specific variety. As with most things, each blue spruce variety has its own characteristics, including size and shape, meaning you can pick one for your very specific needs.
They are breeding specific blue spruces that are easier to take care of and better adapted to their environments. Now you can almost grow them anywhere.
If you are looking to have smaller spruce, you can now pick one of their dwarf or miniature varieties. These varieties are predisposed to be smaller and grow slower.
The smaller dwarf blue spruce varieties can even grow as small as 5-6 feet on average, making them great for small spaces or manicured gardens.
6 Steps To Keep Your Blue Spruce Tree Small
Now that we know the tendencies of blue spruce trees and what they need, we can learn some simple steps and tips on how to keep them small.
As a warning, blue spruce trees do not take well to excessive pruning. If you accidentally prune them too much or too often, they can slow in growth. They may also catch diseases or infections through their open wounds.
Most people recommend making a plan for pruning ahead of time. Then slowly prune off excess or dead branches over a long period to avoid these potential damages.
1. Get Your Tools And Plan
The first step to keeping your blue spruce small is to make sure that you have the correct tools and a solid plan for pruning.
To start, there are a few tools you will need to prune your tree.
One great tool is a hand pruner or a long pruner, such as the TABOR TOOLS Tree Trimmer. The carbon steel blades and comfortable handles make them perfect for trimming your tree with precision.
Spruce needles and sharp branches mean you may also want to get a nice pair of gloves. For example, these Dowelife working gloves. They are cut-resistant and have coated palms to increase grip.
If the tree you’re starting with is very tall, you also may need a larger pole pruner, such as this Sun Joe Pole Chain Saw. The multi-angle head and extendable pole allow for up to 14 feet of reach.
Along with these tools, you should have an adequate plan for the pruning of your tree. This is important so that you know what you are going to do so you do not trim too little or too much.
To do this, take a photo of your tree or draw a few examples of what you might do. After deliberating, you should have a clear idea of what you want to do. Then you are ready to prune your blue spruce.
2. Prune Dead And Large Blue Spruce Tree Branches
To start your pruning process, begin by pruning off the dying and large branches from your blue spruce tree.
As for dying branches, you can easily prune them off, allowing your blue spruce tree to have more airflow, and giving it the ability to move more of its energy to healthy branches.
You can prune these pretty closely, since pruning dead branches does not affect the tree, and simply maintains aesthetics.
In addition, trim off excessively large branches, especially if they are in odd places such as near the top of the tree. Prune these sparingly and allow the tree to recover fully afterward.
It is also good to mention trees that are one-third to half the diameter of the tree are usually posing some competition to the trunk. This may inhibit the growth of the trunk, which could aid in keeping the tree smaller.
3. Eliminate Undesirable Branches Off Your Blue Spruce Tree
Another step to take in pruning your blue spruce is to eliminate any undesirable branches. This means that you should take off any branches that are growing in unwanted directions, or that are unsightly.
Similar to the other pruning rules, prune sparingly, and should also look into other forms of maintenance, such as staking or altering the branches before cutting.
Remember to not do this too often, but periodically.
4. Prune Your Blue Spruce To Create A Small Shape
If this is your first time pruning your blue spruce tree, you will most likely need to prune slightly all over to create a standard shape.
Going back to the first few steps, you should already have the correct tools and a plan in mind to help you along the way.
If your tree is weak, or you are nervous that you could damage it, look into pruning a new shape over a longer period. This allows you to change the shape of the tree safely, which includes fewer risks compared to pruning the tree all at once.
With this idea of pruning for the first time, follow the natural shape of your tree. As mentioned, most blue spruces have taped shapes, having a smaller rounded crown, and a wider base, creating a Christmas tree-like shape.
In the end, if you follow this pattern of pruning slightly (no more than a fourth the diameter of the crown) in the natural shape of the tree, you should not encounter any issues along your way.
5. Prune Your Blue Spruce To Keep It Small
After you prune your tree for the first time, it most likely will continue to grow. Many trees and plants can even grow bushier when pruned, especially if it is near growth nodes.
You should either already have a plan or at least a general idea of what shape you are looking to maintain.
If you have not pruned your spruce in a while, it may have grown in odd ways, or completely lost its original shape. If this is the case, you may have to restart and create another general shape through gradual pruning.
In most cases, however, your spruce should only have a bit of top growth, and possibly a few loose branches extending from the sides. You can simply trim these over the seasons to maintain the original shape.
If you choose to prune your blue spruce, do so seasonally over a long period if you want to keep your tree’s shape without harming it. It’s best to prune your blue spruce during the late winter/early spring when it will have a long period of optimal growth ahead of it.
6. Maintain Your Blue Spruce Tree’s Health Over Time
Alongside these pruning steps, it is important to maintain overall tree health. To do this, make sure that most of its water, sunlight, soil and other needs are being met consistently.
If you fail to meet your blue spruce tree’s health needs over a long period, your tree will usually show signs of stress, such as falling or yellowing needles.
You can improve your tree’s health by also supplying it with compost every once in a while, and by mulching underneath. Not only will this increase soil health and nutrition, but it also helps to retain moisture near the roots.
To keep your blue spruce tree healthy, read our guide on how to make your blue spruce tree more blue here.
How To Take Care Of Baby Blue Spruces
One of the most challenging things of raising and maintaining a small blue spruce is raising it from the seedling to the adult stage.
Watering and sunlight errors, nutrient deficiencies, weather damage, or pest damage are just a few of the many issues you might encounter during this time.
As for watering and sunlight, to take care of your baby blue spruce, water it whenever the soil looks dry. Be sure you initially plant it in a location that has adequate sun for its needs.
Make sure you start your spruce off right by including rich soil, which could be new garden soil, fertilizer, or compost.
Weather damage can also be a big obstacle for baby blue spruces. Especially when they are very young, many weather events can damage your spruce. You should be wary of windstorms, lightning storms, snowstorms, or even harsh rain.
These weather events can cause a multitude of problems, for instance, snapping branches, lost needles, or even changing the orientation of your tree. Problems of this magnitude are more prevalent in places with frequent storms.
To help with these issues, it’s a good idea staking or protecting your blue spruces before and during these events. A stable and semi-covered tree is safer from any harsh rain and debris.
Pest damage can be another issue with blue spruces. This refers to small animals such as squirrels eating/damaging branches/foliage, or even large animals such as deer breaking branches or eating foliage.
While using artificial pesticides is not recommended, there are a few options you can try to help address these problems. Repellents are a great option to deter things like squirrels and deer without actually harming them, yourself, or your tree.
Maintain Your Blue Spruce Tree’s Shape
In most cases, to keep a blue spruce tree small, you will need to trim and prune off the branches and foliage. This can cause issues, as most times gardeners can have trouble with keeping a consistent tree shape while pruning.
Artistic Pruning Blue Spruce Trees
You might prefer to prune your blue spruce into a specific shape. If this shape is not its natural growing pattern, you will most likely have to prune the tree regularly.
Experiment with things such as binding, bending, or staking branches. Doing so in a particular direction will allow them to grow in the direction you want.
Trim Blue Spruce Trees After They Take Shape
For most gardeners, the natural shape of the blue spruce works well. However, they want their tree to be smaller in stature as compared to its natural form.
To maintain a natural tree shape, you first have to see how your tree grows on its own. After this, you can begin by picking a height you want, and by trimming the rest of the tree from there down.
On average, most blue spruce trees have a (rounded) tapered top, with a wide base, almost going up in a perfectly conical shape.
That’s A Wrap!
In the end, blue spruces are pretty classic trees that can offer a nice touch to any garden. They come in many varieties with different shapes and sizes, making them capable of adapting to a plethora of growing areas and conditions.
There are also a few important things to know about blue spruce growth, such as its speed, vigor, and large root system. Knowing these factors is important to understand what your spruce needs and how to prune it safely.
There are a few crucial steps to take to keep your blue spruce small, which include making a plan, getting the right tools, pruning with the natural shape, maintaining a general pruning shape/schedule, and much more!
Each spruce will have its own needs, wants, and pruning guidelines, so go out and have fun trimming!
Silvics of North America. (1990). United States: U.S. Government Printing Office..
Erhart, E., & Hartl, W. (2003). Mulching with compost improves growth of blue spruce in Christmas tree plantations. European Journal of Soil Biology, 39(3), 149–156.
Hanover, J. W. (1975). Genetics of Blue Spruce. In Google Books. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
How to prune spruce?
Photo by the author, illustrations by Vera Manzhura.
So, let's cut Christmas trees! Let me tell you, there is nothing to be afraid of! The main thing is not to wait for the moment when you need a saw as a cutting tool. We will agree to do with secateurs or garden shears, and sometimes just gloved hands.
To begin with, I propose to decide on the goals and objectives of the upcoming event and think in advance, what result do you expect? What do you want from your tree? Pruning may be needed for a variety of reasons.
Reason #1 – Keeping a neat plant shape
Everyone knows what a spruce tree looks like when it's relatively mature – it's a fairly regular cone. If you have chosen a cone-shaped spruce variety, then it is advisable to observe the development of the plant in the first years after planting and “correct” all the branches that are out of the general context in time.
In the first years after planting, many spruce varieties with a cone-shaped crown may grow irregularly. The plant seems to be considering whether to grow in height this year, or is it better to “work up” the volume and take up more space in order to immediately cut off all the owner’s attempts to plant neighbors in the root zone. Such behavior, for example, often surprises everyone's favorite “Hoopsii” (“Hupsi”), as well as compact varieties of prickly spruce “Bialobok” (“Belobok”) and “Nimetz” (“Nimets”). By the way, the “Bialobok” variety is named so not because it becomes “white-sided” at the end of May, when it grows a young growth, but by the name of the author of the variety, Jan Białobok, who found it at 1939 year.
If you want your spruce to be more symmetrical, shorten or remove unsymmetrical branches. In the spring, you can completely remove the central growth of the branch if you notice that it is going to go beyond the shape you need. Did not have time to remove or shorten the branch in the spring? Then cut when it appears for that time. If you observe the plant immediately after planting and stop its attempts to "lose its temper" in time, you will not have to solve more difficult tasks of forming a neglected tree in the future.
Young plants often require tying to a vertical support for a couple of years and monitoring crown behavior. Sometimes at the top of the head, for various reasons, it does not wake up or the central kidney is lost. The usual reaction of spruce to this misunderstanding is to grow two or more parallel growing leaders. If you miss this moment and do not intervene in time, you will have a plant with two or more guides who will try to overtake each other every year. As a result, we will get a plant with an asymmetrical crown, and at the same time the danger of a break at the fork. To avoid such moments, every year in late May and early June, take a look at the top of your spruce. If you see that there are several tops, choose the most even and harmoniously located of the shoots, and break or shorten the rest. During this period, such work can be done simply with your hands, the shoots are still tender and break easily. At the same time, it is possible to correct the general shape - to break or shorten the increments that violate the symmetry of the cone.
I'll make a reservation right away. If you have just bought and planted a young 3-5 year old plant, you should not hone your skills as an aspiring topiary artist on it in the very first season. Let the tree take root well. But watch out for the crown right away!
All of the above applies primarily to medium and fast growing cultivars. Dwarf varieties with an annual growth of up to 10 cm, as a rule, do not require gardener intervention for quite a long time, with the exception of sanitary pruning and cleaning the inside of the crown.
If you didn't have time to correct the shape of your spruce at the beginning of June, you can do it in autumn. If the tree is already mature, then if you have a good eye, feel free to take garden shears and cut it over the entire surface of the crown, as you would cut, for example, a spirea bush, but not forgetting the cone shape. You can shorten the growth of the current year, or, if symmetry requires it, then last year's growth too. Spruces are quite flexible in terms of shearing and are good at awakening dormant buds in response to pruning. The photo below shows the prickly spruce “Erich Frahm” (“Erich Fram”) after the first pinching of young growth in her life last year.
This approach will allow you to quickly cope with cutting not even one spruce, but an entire spruce hedge, get some spruce branches for shelter or mulching other garden crops, and also protect your Christmas tree from possible intruders who are not averse to cutting down a vending Christmas tree to the New Year.
Cause #2 - crown compaction
A wide variety of spruce cultivars growing at medium to fast rates (from 15 to 50 cm per season) can become somewhat “loose” over time and begin to acquire some crown tiering. In order to anticipate such moments, let's try to compact the crown of our Christmas tree in advance. Let's start with observations!
Spruces are conifers that are capable of producing one wave of growth per season. Of course, there are some varieties that manage to give a repeated short increase in the second half of the summer, especially if the summer turned out to be rainy or long. For example, the well-known spruce “Conica” (“Konika”) and its closest relatives do this almost every year. These varieties are good because they completely independently cope with maintaining a super-dense crown.
In the Moscow region, for example, spruces begin to grow young shoots in late May-early June. At this time, spruce growths are soft, as if made of silicone, and young needles are pressed against the shoot. Try not to miss this moment. When the growths reach a length of 5–10–15 cm (depending on the growth rate of a given specimen), they need to be shortened.
The easiest way to work is with gloved hands, without the use of tools. In this case, the shortened ends of the shoots will look more accurate after the needles ripen. Of course, this recommendation does not apply to cutting large volumes, where you can not do without garden shears.
Shoots during this period are rather fragile and easily broken by fingers. Leave the length you need from the shoot, from two to about ten centimeters, break off the rest. Do this carefully, the shoots can easily break off at the base, and this is of no use to us.
It is necessary to take into account one more point - the lower branches of the spruce grow less, and the upper ones much more. That is, the crown can grow by 50 cm in June, and the ends of the lower branches only by 15–20 cm. Therefore, our task is to try to balance the haircut. We leave the growths of the lower branches longer, in the middle part of the crown - shorter, and in the upper part - the shortest. For example, for a Christmas tree with an average growth of 15–20 cm per season, we leave 10 cm from the growth of the lower branches, 5 cm in the middle, and 3 cm in the upper third. You understand that this activity is not for the lazy, it requires some meditative skills and relative peace of mind, because in 10 minutes you can’t do it here. On the example of the prickly spruce “Iseli Fastigiate” (“Iseli Fastigiata”), the difference in growth on the upper and lower branches is clearly visible.
What will be the result of this titanic labor feat? If you have not missed the optimal time for pinching, then after about two months, carefully looking at your Christmas tree, you will find a small miracle! At the base of each shortened shoot, a whole cluster of fatty, shiny buds will form by August! All the buds that the tree planned to place along the entire length of the young growth, she will eventually lay at the base of this young growth, if we managed to shorten it in time. In May-June next year, your Christmas tree will begin its journey to a wonderful transformation. You will get densely spaced growth throughout the canopy!
Well, it goes without saying - an increase in pinching volumes at times. Repeat spring manipulations for at least a couple more years, and then just use garden shears for the same purpose and cut your ward every year. And every year the reason to be proud of yourself will become more and more justified.
Reason #3 – Growth restriction to maintain composition proportions
The vast majority of gardeners have encountered in their gardening practice that the selected plants do not always grow as we would like. Adjusted and calculated, as it seemed to us, the garden group sometimes behaves completely differently than we planned! For various reasons, plants that should have grown quickly are slowed down, and the declared dwarfs suddenly begin to obscure the background!
This happens often. In order to restore relative order and maintain proportions, you have to take scissors. And even if initially everything was done correctly, the proportions are preserved for years, and the group becomes more and more beautiful from year to year, in the end, there comes a moment when the plants begin to close together. Any closure and growing of neighbors into each other threatens with a loss of decorativeness and thinning of the crown at the points of contact. Due to the lack of light, shaded branches begin to gradually shed their needles and die, and the shape of the crown loses its symmetry.
Christmas trees create a very dense shade for the neighbors and therefore they must be kept within limits. Spruces themselves also do not like shading very much, contrary to what is written about them in the reference literature. Yes, they tolerate shading, they will not die, but they will not grow beautiful under such conditions either. If some part of the spruce crown is shaded by neighboring plants, then an ugly tear can quickly form in this part, which will then be very difficult to overgrow. Therefore, try to avoid shading the neighbors with each other. Use a corrective haircut.
The optimal time for shearing fir trees is the beginning of June (the time of growth of young shoots) and the end of summer-autumn. The June haircut will help you compact the crown, and the autumn haircut will help you adjust the shape and maintain the desired size. If the crown is already dense enough, skip spring pruning, cut in summer and autumn. When shortening adult branches, do not cut branches thicker than a finger in diameter. The cut on the branch is performed at the place where the lateral branches originate, while it is desirable not to leave stumps. You can shorten the main branch to any length.
I strongly advise you to immediately decide what size tree you want to have in the future. It is important! Choose a rail of the desired height and temporarily secure this rail along the trunk while cutting. The upper end of the rail will give you the height of the future cone. From this point, draw an imaginary line down to the base of the cone, and stick to it as you cut. If your eye is not very good, take another rail - more authentic and apply it during the haircut to the upper end of the vertical rail. You yourself will be surprised how smooth the cone you end up with.
If you do not immediately set the final height of the tree, then it will be very difficult to maintain the correct proportions of the crown. Keep in mind that cutting from a stepladder is much more inconvenient and labor-intensive than doing it from the ground, not to mention the price of the services of Carlson the topiary.
If you don't have time to trim your tree in the fall, do it early in the spring before the growing season starts. Missed the June haircut - it doesn’t matter, cut the Christmas tree in August, September, October, November. Ate in this respect are very "compliant". There is no need to process cuts and even saw cuts of spruce branches. All damage is covered with resin. Just do not leave bark burrs and burrs along the contour of the cuts. Cut the saw cut along the contour with a sharp knife, as is done on fruit trees. This contributes to the rapid overgrowth of all damage.
Another important measure for maintaining the beauty and health of your fir trees is cleaning the inside of the crown. Take time to look inside the crown, clean out the fallen needles and cut dead branches into a ring. The crown will then be better ventilated and illuminated. This helps to awaken dormant buds and reduces the risk of fungal diseases.
Reason #4 – “What if I’m an artist at heart?”
We all do different things, work from morning to night and get tired of the routine. Our garden is a magical place where we can realize any creative plans and get to know ourselves from an unexpected side. Spruces are an excellent material for topiary, they are plastic in cutting and quite willingly awaken dormant buds. From fir trees, if desired, you can get any geometric shapes and even create a garden sculpture! For such purposes, it is better to choose dwarf varieties. Keeping fast-growing cultivars within limits will not be an easy task. And of course, it would be more rational to cut the correct ball from a spherical variety, and the ideal cone from a conical one.
You can easily find the most incredible examples of fir topiary shearing on the Internet. Do not be too lazy to inquire - you will get a lot of pleasant impressions!
And I sincerely wish you to show your creative potential in all its glory, surprise and please yourself, relatives, friends and neighbors with wonderful garden works in the coming season!
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spring, for splendor, video
- 1 How often it takes pruning
- 2 when to form prickly spruce
- 3 Choice of the tool
- 4 Technology for the haircut
- 4.1 Pinking blue spruce
- 4.3 Sanitary pruning
Pruning blue spruce helps keep it neat and prevents it from becoming a huge tree. After all, the plant is quite tall, some of its varieties are able to develop very rapidly and add up to 1 m in growth per year. Therefore, in order for the blue spruce to fit beautifully into the landscape of the site, it has to be cut periodically. Pruning also allows you to rejuvenate the plant, is considered a preventive procedure against fungal diseases and insects, helps to provide branches with nutrition and oxygen.
Blue spruce pruning can be done in many different ways
How often pruning is required
Every plant care procedure must be done correctly, including blue spruce pruning. When cutting, you need to adhere to a certain scheme, carry it out at the right time and not very often.
The maximum procedure is carried out a couple of times a year, only broken and diseased branches, as well as yellowed and dried shoots, which interfere with development and cause a loss of decorativeness of the plant, are subject to it.
If you want to form a crown, it is best to prune blue spruce before the age of 8, after which it is advisable to leave it alone and let it develop on its own.
When to form a prickly spruce
Shaping pruning is necessary for prickly spruce when it has grown to a certain size and the grower does not want it to grow taller or its top has been damaged. In addition, the procedure allows you to give the crown splendor. Many gardeners form it in the form of a ball, spiral or tongues of flame, thereby creating originality in appearance.
It is best if pruning to form a plant is carried out in early spring, before the growth of young shoots begins. Then, already in the second half of summer, the regrown branches will be able to close the formed stumps. Formative pruning of blue spruce is also allowed in early June, after the shoots have finished growing, but then the tree will look less decorative. Throughout the summer, you can slightly trim the shoots that grow beyond the form, but from the moment of the first frost until March, the spruce is not touched, otherwise its wood will freeze out, and in the worst case, the plant will die altogether.
Warning! Branches of the year before last or last year are subject to removal, it is better not to cut the older ones. This work involves the implementation of a number of rules, failure to comply with which will lead to baldness of part of the tree.
Shaping pruning allows you to grow even tall blue spruce in the field
To avoid harm to blue spruce during shearing, suitable sharpened and processed garden tools should be used for work. To get rid of large branches, a hand saw or a hacksaw is used, and pruning of small shoots can be done with an ordinary pruner or scissors. To process the instrument, any disinfectants are used, most often potassium permanganate, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
Blue spruce shearing technology
Pruning of prickly spruce can be decorative and sanitary, it is largely determined by the method and purpose of growing, for example, a tree can be free-standing with an interesting shape or serve as a hedge. The first version of the haircut is carried out solely in order to restrain the excessive growth of the culture and give it a neater appearance, the second in order to rejuvenate and provide nutrition to healthy shoots. In the case when the spruce is very young, up to three years old, pinching is carried out on it.
Pruning blue spruce is an important point in the care of the plant, on which its growth rate and appearance depend. If the procedure is performed in accordance with the instructions, then the conifer will be beautiful and healthy.
In order for the pruning of blue spruce to be carried out according to the rules, certain recommendations must be taken into account:
- carry out the procedure in cloudy and cool weather;
- Sprinkle the crown before starting work;
- consider the natural shape of the plant when cutting;
- prune a tree that is over a year old;
- use well-sharpened and disinfected equipment.
Tip! Pruning should be carried out with gloves and protective clothing, as the resin released from the cut branches is poorly rubbed off.
Blue Spruce will grow extra shoots if not sheared, and will become very tall and wide
gentler than pruning. Most often it is applied to young trees with tender shoots. It should be carried out at the beginning of the summer season, after their growth stops, when there is active sap flow. The procedure involves the complete breaking out of a part of the candle, sometimes cutting off small branches. Most often, the shoot is clamped between the thumb and forefinger and its tip is twisted with the free hand. At the same time, it is important to carry out the work carefully, avoiding damage to sleeping kidneys, make sure that 2-3 of them remain. So next year, shoots will grow at the processing site, which will also need to be pinched.
Attention! To make the crown lush, pinching is performed above the growth bud.
The pinching procedure provokes the awakening of new branches
How to form a blue spruce
Pruning and shaping of a blue spruce must be carried out in accordance with existing agrotechnical rules. If we are talking about a full-fledged haircut, then they start it after the tree reaches the desired height, at the same time it is given the desired shape, for which they resort to a certain technology. Usually, a wire frame is attached to the spruce trunk and excess branches are removed. The best time recommended for such pruning is considered to be spring, when the buds have not yet woken up and started growing.
Tip! Spruce is usually formed at the end of March or in the first days of April, before the start of sap flow.
Step-by-step instructions on how to prune a blue spruce look like this:
- Remove the top of the plant to a developed side branch.
- Tie a rail to the trunk so that the top of the conifer straightens out and stays upright at all times.
- Cut the spruce into the desired shape.
The main thing is to follow the procedure, taking into account agrotechnical rules, as shown in the following video on the formation of blue spruce:
As for the basic pruning rules, you should know that coniferous crops cannot be cut off more than 1/3 of the green mass, in this case a healthy plant can quickly recover. Attention! If the spruce is weakened or sick, then it is better to postpone the haircut procedure until it is restored.
On a healthy tree at the base of a cut branch, three shoots are usually formed. Periodically, the plant is inspected for weak and damaged branches, and if any are found, they are carefully removed. Sanitary pruning is also recommended in the fall, before the onset of cold weather. By this time, some of the needles are already falling from the old branches, and they become bare. In order for new shoots to grow from sleeping buds with the arrival of heat, the ends of such branches are removed.
Care after pruning
After pruning, blue spruce must be properly cared for. The rate of restoration of the plant's strength will depend on the quality of care. Mainly, the culture needs to be provided with competent watering and fertilizer. It is advisable to carry out a single feeding with a growth stimulator. The care plan for blue spruce after pruning is as follows:
- Watering. After shearing, spruce is moistened by sprinkling. This means that water is supplied not only under the roots, but also on the needles. It is recommended to water evenly. Since the culture does not tolerate drought well, at least four buckets of water should go to each copy. When watering, you should follow the rule of the golden mean, since waterlogging the plant can also be detrimental. The procedure should be carried out no more than once every three weeks.
- Loosening. It is advisable to loosen the soil in the near-stem circle of blue spruce from time to time. This is usually done before soil is applied. Since its roots are well developed, the procedure is carried out to a depth of 10 cm.
- Fertilizer. After pruning to restore spruce, it is advisable to feed it with strong growth stimulants. It is recommended to add 30 g of Zircon diluted in 10 liters of water under the root, and spray the crown with Epin's solution (50 g per 10 liters). As for fertilizer, they are applied in order to increase frost resistance, in the last week of October. Usually use 100 g of superphosphate diluted in a bucket of water.
- Preparing for cold weather. It is useful to mulch blue spruce before the arrival of winter. As a material, wood chips, fallen leaves or straw are usually taken. Mulch with a layer of about 15 cm falls asleep near the trunk circle.
Since coniferous crops produce a resin that creates an airtight coating, there is no need to treat the cut points
Blue spruce pruning is most often done to restrain its growth rate so that it does not take up too much space on the site.