Help with pruning weeping norway!

weeper_11(2b SK)April 5, 2009

I planted a weeping norway spruce last spring. Over the winter it had some deer damage as well as some winter browning in a few places. With the tree being as young as it is, if I prune the browned branches off, will it regrow new ones?

Also, on the main trunk it has needs growing along the central leader. Some of those needles are brown. Should I leave them? Will they fall off by themselves? Will the regrow new ones? I watered it as best as I could in fall...I think I took proper care of it, but I unforunately didn't put burlap sheilds up soon enough to save it from winter browning. I know better for next year, but I'm hoping I won't have a brownish tree forever!

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Just leave it alone until the new growth is well extended this spring/early summer. Then you can prune off the parts that at that time are obviously dead, showing no new growth.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 7:25PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

"With the tree being as young as it is, if I prune the browned branches off, will it regrow new ones"?

I'll give you the bad news first. No...conifers don't replace branches that die out.

The main trunk needles being brown is not a big issue...they will fall off on their own and not re-grow new ones.

The good news...This conifer is a vigorous grower and in a few years these present issues will be a thing of the past.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 7:57PM
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weeper_11(2b SK)

Ok, so the main trunk needles won't grow back...what about individual needles on the little branches? Will they just fall out and not regrow? The reason I ask is because I'm pretty sure that some of the branches are still alive, but on one side of them most of the needles are going to fall off. So will it just be one sided forever? I mean, I'm sure that once there is a lot more new growth, these injuries will blend into the background, but still - it is disappointing.

Thanks for the information and quick response though. It is nice to know what I'm dealing with...even if the news isn't all that great.

It's just so sad! It's pretty 'skirt' is partially gone because the deer chomped on it, and then it has brown spots. It looks kind of battered, but it is my favorite conifer, so I don't want to give up on it!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 8:10PM
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weeper- what size was the norway that got eaten. I was thinking of planting a bunch this spring but if the deer norway- then forget I am screwed. I was going to plant some green giants but I am not taking the chance. I was under the impression that the deer would stay away from spruce trees? seems like there is nothing lately that is safe. i know they didn't touch my skyrockets this year- but I need something bigger.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 8:14AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

needles are only held on conifers for 1 to 3 years.. generally speaking ...

if you go to a forest.. you will never see a furry trunk ...

they only hold on the branch or trunk during its first year or two.. perhaps a juvenile phase ... of that particular area ...

i agree with spruce.. lets see what it does.. before we start cutting things off.. just to make sure the dead looking parts are actually dead ....

after spring flush .. just start removing the fully brown parts.. as far back as necessary ... do NOT leave stubs ... clean cuts

you may want to consider protecting it now... we dont want the deer to come finish it off this summer ....


    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 8:39AM
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weeper_11(2b SK)

Thankfully the deer never hang around in the summer around here...of course, someday I might eat my words! With the location of the tree being right by the house, it would be pretty pointless for me to fence it off...meaning, not much point in having a nice big garden if I have to put an unattractive fence around it. I live on a farm, so it would have to be a very big, very expensive fence to put up anything permanent! I'll definitely keep my eyes out for deer this summer though. And I will be putting up a removabe fence during the winter. Since the one day the deer went to town on it, they haven't touched it.

thetman - the spruce is about 4 feet tall, or maybe a litte less. I agree, spruce usually isn't something deer eat...I don't think they actually ate it though, they just bit a bunch of branches off and left them there. They may have just been rubbing it, and they broke off. I wouldn't worry too much though. They won't "go after" it..but if they are constantly browsing in your yard, they might take a bite, or rub their antlers. You are right..these days, nothing is deer-proof. They also pawed through the snow to my blue star juniper and bit off half of it. Grrr

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 9:07AM
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Sometimes a twig or two of a Norway spruce will be rubbed against something else, maybe by wind, and the needles, or most of them, will be knocked off. But the buds on the twig will still be alive. So don't do any hasty pruning now. Also, young branches, up to several years old will have dormant buds, and they can produce new shoots along the branch. So a branch that seems skinny now and lacking in foliage, can produce new shoots and develop new twigs to fill out the branch.

So, again, don't do any hasty pruning. If a branch doesn't produce any new growth this year beyond some point, then assume that branch is dead beyond that point and cut it off. But if a branch seems skinny and has only a few live needles, but does show some growth, leave it. It should fill out. But how many dormant buds sprout along young branches is an issue determined greatly by individual tree genetics. I have seen some Norway spruce that have so many dormant buds sprouting along branches, and then the subsequent twigs sprouting so many new twigs in turn, that the top of these branches become like wonderful green carpets.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 10:12AM
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weeper- thanks for the info-I still want to plant some Norways-figured they would be more resistant than green giants. Sorry about your blue star- but I lost just about all of my blue rug junipers this winter- deer ate them right down to twigs-funny thing is they didn't touch my blue stars so I replaced alot of them with the blue stars..geez this gets expensive!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 7:37PM
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weeper_11(2b SK)

Yup, replacing shrubs for no good reason is very expensive and disappointing! And preventative measures like fences are even more expensive unfortunately...

Thanks for all the info, Spruce, Ken and Dave. I won't do any pruning until summer. It's going to look like less of a specimen this year and more like a pity case, but I'm sure it will bounce back eventually, and I'm willing to wait for that. I'm just thankful the deer didn't take off the cental leader.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 9:08AM
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