Will regular pruning keep a blue spruce down to a manageable size

oohstella(6a)February 19, 2014


We got a potted blue spruce as a Christmas tree one year and kept it as a house plant. It started to die off, so I planted it outside so it's roots could stretch out and enjoy its somewhat natural winter habitat.

Unfortunately we are renters and probably shouldn't be planting a giant tree in the backyard. If we regularly trim it, do you think a blue spruce could be kept to a manageable size? Or should we guerrilla-plant this guy in one of the evergreen-filled parks nearby?

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How big is it already? How long are you planing on staying there? Maybe it won't be your problem haha.

Here's a link that talks about what you want to do, if you try it let me know how it goes

Here is a link that might be useful: spruce pruning to keep it small

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 11:04PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

interesting link ...

i like all the hard work .. not a bad job ...

but that darn tree still looks like it under the power lines... and they didnt significantly shorten the tree ... so whats the point??

where are you .. .big city name...

i didnt think blue spruce .. Picea pungens can handle z8b ...

it all may be moot as to it growing into a large tree...

just because they sold it as a disposable xmas tree... doesnt mean it zone appropriate.. or i will stand corrected ..


BTW: there are a multitude of dwarf pungens.. that could fit in many such situations... presuming they are zone appropriate ...

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 9:08AM
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Pruning up the tree will effectively ruin the overall look of the Blue Spruce, depending on the variety but with most seedling or common Blue Spruce they will not respond well to
such pruning.

Plant it in a park where it can grow naturally as nature intended it to do.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 9:10AM
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In response the the first two posts, I live in Portland, Oregon, a mostly cold and very rainy climate. It's about three feet high so far. It might not even make it, we'll see if it grows some new buds in the spring. Thanks for the link!

And thanks for your response, Dave. If the tree does well enough I might just do that.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 9:38AM
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Here is another example of a blue spruce that has been regularly pruned for size.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 10:01AM
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The people at the link I posted are really into hard pruning of all kinds of trees/shrubs. They also say that sometimes plants don't survive the pruning. But if the alternative is having a monster or taking it out, maybe losing a few is ok.

They show a spruce under some wires in a grassy lawn, probably the homeowners spend many hours every year mowing and watering and fertilizing the lawn. If they like the spruce, why not cut the tree back every year or two when the alternative is to let it grow too high then remove it.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 1:00PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the link.. is for an already overgrown plant ...

at 3 feet ... yours is not.. so you would not prune it that way ...

this spring.. should it bud out... you would ... cut the soft new growth about half way ...

it is imperative that you do this.. while it is soft and fresh ...

on a typical pungens... new growth should be about one foot up... 8 inches sideways... [but of course yours is a recent transplant so both would be lesser] ...

anyway ... as the new growth extends.. new buds are set ... as the wood hardens...

if you do it while soft.. new buds will be set.. before it hardens off ...

if you do it too late ... and you cut off all the set buds.. you are screwed ... lol ...

unfortunately.. i dont have time to find you a precise link in this regard ... hopefully someone else can provide such ..

the pic above.. represents one that was pruned as i am explaining.. not like at the link ...


ps: commando planting ... ???? .. i wonder.. is that much different than polluting the park ... presuming the park is planted with a design or plan??? .. i dont know, nor am i denigrating such.. i am just wondering ... would it be ok.. if it were an invasive plant???

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 1:05PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Sometimes shearing is confused with pruning.
I guess shearing is a form of pruning, a dumbed down version.
It does have it's place though.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 2:40PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

exactly ...

we dont top trees...

conifers are trees ...

and essentially .... shearing is no better than topping ...


ps: go ahead and plant it commando ... i doubt a 3 foot conifer transplant can survive with little or no followup care .... its just a situation.. where you cant seem to win ... making that fake xmas tree look better and better.. lol ...

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 7:56AM
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