Columnar Blue Spruce & ? Odd tree & what to do with it? (pics?

NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)June 27, 2011

Hi everyone,

So this past weekend a friend of mine gave to me the small tree below. It is labeled as a Columnar Blue Spruce. It is obviously a graft. However as you can see this one is an odd one. It appears that the root stock and the graft are growing side by side. (on the same rootstock) So can anyone positively ID the rootstock here? It looks like a Norway Spruce to me, but I'm not 100% certain.

Also, I know that some trees if the rootstock starts to grow you should trim that part off if you want the graft to be successful. On some though you can grow both just fine together. So my question here is does anyone know if this tree will be ok growing both, or should I remove one or the other? As you can see both are healthy and vigorous, though the root stock seems to have a bit more vigor than the grafted blue spruce. What to do? I do like both trees, but honestly if I was going to go with a blue spruce I would probably go with just the standard and not a columnar one. Anyway, let me know what you think. Thanks very much!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the green part.. is the understock.. and should have been cut off about 4 years ago ...

the blue part is the named part ...

take a look where the trunks meet ... find the graft.. study it.. and see if i am correct ...

if you can not tell.. then snap a pic of that ...

at this time of year.. especially if you are in z7/8 ... it will probably die if you were to properly plant. it.. including the requisite root surgery ...

i would get a 3 gallon pot ... sand if you have it.. and insert this pot in that... and put it in shade until proper planting time ...

the sand is for drainage.. and for weight.. potting media in a 3 gal pot.. will not hold up that huge plant in a small pot ...

in the alternative.. use potting media.. and push a stake right thru the drainage holes in the bigger pot ... to basically staple it ... pot and all ... to the ground ... until fall .. otherwise it will keep falling over ...


    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 5:32PM
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NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)

Hey Ken, Thanks for the reply. Oh it is definitely a graft. The graft is about 1/2" above the soil line. And yeah I know the blue part is the part it was "sold as". My idea was to keep it as a container planting for a few years or so, then plant it in the ground somewhere. My questions were if it will be OK as is, or if I should remove either the graft, or the root stock, to allow just one to take over. If I remove one what is the best time of year to do this, and, does it matter which one I remove? I am leaning towards keeping the green side which appears to be the dominant side. I also wanted a positive ID on what the green side (the rootstock (understock) is. I think it may be Norway Spruce but Im not 100% sure. I was looking for a confirmation of that, or, to get an ID on it if that is not what it is.

I up potted it in to a slightly larger pot, with better medium, something similar to Al's container mix for trees. I placed that pot into a 3 gallon pot. I have not added sand for weight yet. I also really loosened the root ball as it was rather tightly packed into its tiny pot.

Thanks again for the help! =o)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 9:54PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

dont repot it again.. just make sure it doesnt blow over in wind too much.. many way to do that without multiple potting this time of year ...

why you would cut off a 25$ plant.. for the green $2 plant is beyond me .... but knock yourself out ...

with transplant shock an issue.. i would contemplate when i would remove half the canopy of a tree ... i cant decide right now .. give it a year to grow roots.. or go for removal now??? .. wonder what others would do???


    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 8:01AM
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NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)

I think the pot it is in is heavy enough its not going to blow over unless its in like 50MPH winds. The reason I am contemplating allowing the green rootstock (still need positive ID) to take over and do away with the columnar blue spruce is because it was given to me, and, I'm partial to traditional blue spruces, not the columnar type. So yeah, what WOULD others do? Thanks! =o)

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 12:01AM
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I would be tempted to just leave both and see what happens.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 12:34AM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

If both will leave, then the Picea abies will overgrow the Picea pungens 'Iseli Foxtail' or 'Blue Totem'...

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 1:16AM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Not to mention a nasty Y in the trunks that will ultimately rot and when one falls the other is left with a bare side...and leaning.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 6:06PM
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NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)

TJ, yeah the "bad crotch" would be a big concern down the road for me too. It will literally be a narrow V shape that grows into itself. Right now the Norway seems to be the lead, dominant, and straight trunk, and the columnar blue spruce is kind of growing out of it off to the side at an angle that is also almost straight up. Below is a closeup photo of the graft.

The trunk on the right is right is the Picea pungens f. glauca 'Fastigata' (Columnar Blue Spruce). The Trunk on the left is the Picea Abies (Norway Spruce). At least that is what the consensus seems to be on what the root stock for this graft is.

So, knowing that one is going to be removed, and that one is likely to be the columnar blue spruce, when would be the best time to do this? Also, given this is not a standard branch prune, anyone know about how close to the trunk I should cut it off? I was thinking of leaving about 1/2". Thanks for all the help!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 2:20PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

The blue one isn't a Picea pungens f. glauca 'Fastigiata' but Picea pungens 'Iseli Fastigiate'
This is it's name in the trade.
It's official name is Picea pungens f. glauca 'Iseli Fastigiate'

It also could be Picea pungens 'Blue Totem'...

B.t.w. cut the Picea abies part as close to the stem as possible, leave nothing there because then it's always possible that the understock will flush out!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 2:50PM
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NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)

Thanks for the correction on the name. Im not into columnar blue spruces, so I just went with what was on the tag. The blue spruce will be the one going away, not the Norway Spruce. I know many here will probably hate me for it, but as I said earlier it was given to me as a left over by a friend, and I'm not a big fan of the columnar blue spruce. I like the regular old Picea Pungens. So just again to be clear, the Norway Spruce part is the part being KEPT. Call me silly or stupid but I'm just partial to those over Columnar Blue Spruces. So what time of year is the best time to cut out the other trunk? thanks! =o)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 11:14PM
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If I were going to remove the scion, I would do it in late winter or early spring. But you could probably do it any time and not have a problem.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 11:37PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 8:49AM
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