baby blue eyes spruce damaged

splitrockDecember 6, 2012

My DD has a very blue, very slow-growing blue spruce next to her driveway. It was there when they bought the house and was about 5 feet tall and quite narrow and open. I am only guessing at "Baby Blue Eyes". About a month ago it was badly damaged, apparently by a buck rubbing it's antlers up and down the truck, about 2 feet from the ground. The main trunk is so badly damaged, that it seem to me that we should cut the trunk off just above the four lower branches and hope it eventually sends up a new main header.
Any advice at all would be appreciated!

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wisconsitom

Hey Splitrock. Without benefit of a picture it's hard to know just how bad this damage is. It could be that the tree can recover without the heavy surgery. I just can't tell without that picture.

+oM

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 4:38PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i am not sure on your name.. mines kinda squat and chubby ...

any chance at a picture.. perhaps DD has the ability.. if you dont ...

the simple question is.. take a guess .. what percent of the bark.. at a given point around the tree.. was scraped off???

most of these injuries can heal themselves... and it would not be appropriate to amputate the whole tree ... unless it goes way beyond bark damage ...

give us a % .. and a pic.. if possible ...

ken

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 4:54PM
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splitrock


I was finally able to get back to my daughter's house and take a few pictures. I was wrong about the height of the tree. It is only 4 feet tall.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 12:33PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

unless she can be happy with it on a 3 foot standard.. meaning removal of everything below .... and leaving the top one foot ...

and unless she can protect it from further damage.. which could be ugly right next to the drive..

i would suggest she get rid of it ...

and with the big tree trunk behind.. i am wondering if it isnt a bit starved for sunshine ... they are full sun plants ... and though it looks like it has a reduced annual growth rate.. it looks pretty skimpy .. its not filling in properly ... and if your ID is wrong.. its way too close to the driveway ...

i would be done with it .. though it probably can survive.. its going to look a mess for years to come ...

ken

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 1:22PM
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splitrock

Just for clarity, the tree is in zone 7, Raleigh NC.
The trunk looks like it has perhaps had repeated damage, and I am a little hesitant to trim it up into a standard for this reason. It would just be damaged again unless we fenced it, which would not look well next to her driveway. Also, it does grow slowly and was planted in a too-shady spot as you noticed, Ken.
I think it must have been planted about 4 years ago. My daughter will be fine with whatever I decide to do, as long as I am the one that does it. I, however, have a real fondness for the little tree. It is so blue and has a very soft texture.
What about cutting it off down low and hoping for a central leader to develop? Would moving it into a container on the sunny deck be a good idea? She does not have a good sunny area in her suburban yard.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 1:53PM
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maple_grove_gw

Split,

In general, spruce will not respond to pruning by putting out new shoots. If you cut off the top, it will not grow a new leader de novo; you would have to train one of the remaining lower shoots as the new leader. From what I can see from the picture, there's no good candidate for that since the lower branches are decidedly in a horizontal position. You may be able to bend one upwards, but the result may be even less aesthetically pleasing than what you've got now. Give it a go and see what you think - at this point you've got nothing to lose.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 2:08PM
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splitrock

Interesting... thanks, Maple. I can see now why that might not be attractive. I suppose I will have to just kiss it goodbye. Perhaps I could try to propagate some cuttings.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 2:19PM
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splitrock

I think I will prune it up to a standard and move it into a large pot, where it could be kept away from the deer on her half-day sunny deck. Question is now, "How about that damaged trunk?" Should I wrap it at all, even for the winter months, or let alone?
Thanks for your advice!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 2:29PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

"It is so blue and has a very soft texture".

Picea pungens noted for very sharp needles when new growth hardens off.

I am thinking you noticed the soft texture during Spring flush.

Good luck with your transplant. You could mound up several large rocks around the base to soften up the bean pole look.

In time it could branch down as it puts on new growth at limb tips somewhat to complete a more natural look. That will be a few years.

Dave

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 4:23PM
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floramakros(Earth CA 9)

Hi splitrock, unless you want a project that will take years to look good if it survives (maybe if it's a backyard tree and you like the challenge I'd say go for it but its prominent spot next to the driveway for aesthetic reasons to me makes it a non starter) I'd recommend replacing it with a Fat Albert or Hoopsii, two really outstanding blue beauties that will make you smile everytime you drive in. You can probably find one or both on sale at your local nursery this time of year, it would be a great Christmas present for her. But think of a stringent anti-deer regime now (can't help you on this because deer have never been a problem I've had to deal with, I'm sure other folks here will have some great advice) good luck!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 4:44PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

I wouldn't plant anything. It's too close to the driveway for another conifer that would drop cones loaded with sap and branches that would also drip sap. It would also be a thin (spruce) tree, always. That tree needs to go to the chipper or burn pile. It's a situation that took care of itself before your DD would have had a mess on her hands down the road.

Small shrub, sure. Upright narrow and green Thuja, sure.

Dax

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 6:19PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

For sure Dax is right. "Upright narrow and green Thuja, sure".

'Hoopsii' and 'Fat Albert' defiantly a non starter. :>(

'Hoopsii' to 30-45' tall and 10-20' wide.
wide. Same for 'Fat Albert'.

Both must have full sun.

Dave

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 6:37PM
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floramakros(Earth CA 9)

Dax, this is the philosopher in me talking, if he didn't plant it in the same spot but several feet further away from the driveway would you still not recommend a new blue pungens? By the time it becomes a driveway issue it will be a problem for his great grandkids to deal with if they still own the property (and knowing how fast technology advances there'll probably be force field driveway pinecone guards by then to take care of the problem), why not have years of a beautiful tree in the meantime? It's kind of funny for us humans to worry about the adult sizes of our now baby trees we will most likely only see from Heaven...my philosophy has always been every tree I plant is a time capsule for future generations, I only get to enjoy it for a brief but wonderful time...

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 6:46PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

In that case, plant a Metasequoia. Come on.

No way. I do things right the first time. And shade, remember shade is going to make for a spruce that will struggle to maintain. It would look as bad as a fern clump planted in full sun. And a few feet isn't going to cut it. People plant large trees under electrical wires and too close to homes or in this case, a driveway, and they do it all the time. All I can do is shake my head. There's something right for that area for that person.

Dax

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 7:04PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I'd recommend replacing it with a Fat Albert or Hoopsii, two really outstanding blue beauties that will make you smile everytime you drive in.

==>> absolutely neither of those two .. the spot is too close to the driveway ..

several feet further away from the driveway would you still not recommend a new blue pungens?

==>> thats further in the shade... and though i have pungens in full shade.. they are not spectacular plants in deep shade ...

====>>>BTW.. why are you in charge of the decision??/ .. was it your gift to them..

frankly.. without a better pic of the whole area.. we are really shooting at fish in a barrel.. as to what would fit/go there ...

i dont recall.. if you ever told us where this plant is .. but next proper planting season is a few months away.. so you might need to go back for another pic ...

we'll get you there.. sooner or later.. lol ...

ken

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 7:16PM
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floramakros(Earth CA 9)

I only edited this post to add the "r" in Christmas, nothing else but this explanation was added and/or deleted.

"In that case, plant a Metasequoia. Come on."

Have you been to California? Have you seen all the young metasequoias bordering pavement? No joke, I agree with you, ridiculous. But that's a tree that can grow 4 feet a year, a blue spruce is more like an inch a year, am I right? If he plants one of those baby live Christmas tree blue spruces (this assumes full sun, if I missed the part where he said the tree was thin due directly to shading I agree pick a different species) how many decades until size becomes an issue? Will any of us here be alive? ;-)

This post was edited by floramakros on Mon, Dec 17, 12 at 19:29

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 7:16PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

If you want blue and need something that is shade tolerant try Abies lasiocarpa 'Glauca Compacta'

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 9:06PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

It's just Abies lasiocarpa 'Compacta', not 'Glauca Compacta'...

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 2:12AM
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maple_grove_gw

I agree, I would replace with something shrubby if only to prevent reoccurence. Plant another tree, especially one where the trunk is visible from the outside, and within a few years it may meet the same tragic end.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 8:59AM
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splitrock

Hi, I am the Op. I have heard and appreciate the collective wisdom of simply removing the tree. I would never have planted it in that location myself, but it was there when our daughter bought the house a few years ago. The spot is too shady for a happy spruce. I also agree that a tree of any kind does not need to be there.
Maple - You are so right about the probability of repeated antler damage. Funny thing is we never, ever even see the deer during the day.
Conifer Joy and Whaas- I grow 6 or 7 species of picea and 3 different abies at our mountain place. I am beginning to landscape an afternoon sun only area that is now outside the windows of a new addition to the cabin. I will try to
find a good Abies lasiocarpa 'Compacta'. I do love blue conifers.
Ken- I try to read anything you post because you seem to have a similar climate to ours at the cabin ( 6a Blue Ridge Mountains). Its not just the cold; its the wind and the morning sun that are a problem for me there. You asked why I'm in charge and, of course, I'm not. Its their tree. Its just that my daughter and her husband are busy and not really plant people. They like a nice landscape, but do not plan to ever actually prune, dig holes, or remove anything themselves. They have a regular lawn service and a tree service that comes when needed. I am the avid gardener in the family and they asked me to figure out the best thing to do with the damaged tree. I am an experienced gardner, but not an expert on conifers, so I asked for advise here. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 5:53PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i think.. looking at that pic.. not only is it deer damage.. but i think a deer ran it over.. backing out of the driveway ... probably driving an old impala ... just to keep it in the family .. lol ..

you are welcome ...

ken

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 7:40AM
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