Alberta Spruce for bonsai

Looking forward to tomorrow’s stream and participating in the grand experiment to integrate this species into the bonsai world. I started in the fall of 2018 and will be doing more this year.
I pruned and wired(structural) this guy pretty heavily in the fall of 2018, also slicing off half the root ball and sticking it in a pot at the same time. The tree barely skipped a beat. I think I lost 1 or 2 branches. It’s continued to set buds like crazy all over. Just recently I whittled down the top as a jin and burned it with a torch.

7 Likes

I’ve been waiting for this stream ever since Ryan mentioned having a “generational” set of nursery DAS. I haven’t done too much to mine. Just jinned one of the trunks and removed weak branches and structural flaws. I left the rest of the foliage to aid in the upcoming repot. What kind of soil did you use?

3 Likes

Good size, loads of potential! Should certainly be able to handle an aggressive repot into a bonsai container.
For spruce:
1 part pumice
1 part lava
2-3 parts akadama
Leave the 1/16” particles in.

4 Likes

I used 3:1:1 on my Dwarf Alberta Spruces last spring, and they were doing well. I kept them in partial shade where I had morning/evening sun but mid-day shade, and they seemed to respond OK. I am still early in the styling process for them, here they are.

4 Likes


Small Alberta I worked on. I plan on developing the crown as it grows out but have had some funny experiences with the top branches. I noticed that when the apex branches are wired down they tend to die even with minimal wiring. The rest of the tree will stay healthy but I’ve lost the apex on a couple of them in which I used for practice. Don’t know if it was something I was doing or if they apex is more sensitive for some reason.

7 Likes

I can’t wait for the extended cut of that stream. My spruce has a similar second trunk at the base and I’ve been wondering what to do with it. I am concerned about it living in my climate, but it seems fine so far. I purchased it in mid-July and it survived the brutal months of Aug and Sept. :man_shrugging:t4:

I like how I think I do something okay (like structurally wire an alberta spruce), but then Mirai Live comes along with a stream that shows me everything I did wrong. :laughing:

I’ll have to take a pic later, but my spruce is a masterclass in how not to put structural wire on the spruce when trying to drop branches alpine style.

I’m writing ‘obtuse angle’ in sharpie on my garage wall so I don’t forget.

3 Likes

You should see my hinoki. For some reason I decided that the first tree I should wire and style is one of the more difficult trees because I’m an idiot lol. :weary:

I do think it’s good though. Doing something wrong, and then seeing someone do it right (and explain it) is super helpful. These mistakes have helped me immensely.

I’m going to leave my Alberta spruce alone for now, but I’m better equipped for the next one (or the next tree with similar branches).

1 Like

I believe that just comes with time and practice. Alberta Spruce is definitely a perfect subject for this since they’re so readily available. I’m pretty sure every person in bonsai has wired incorrectly at some point in their journey.

Living in coastal regions all my life I tend to gravitate towards a more upwards orientation for my branches. This is some inspiration for my tree.

This is the first tree I bought from nursery stock when I first started bonsai about 3 years ago. Shortly after, I read that it was often a beginner mistake to choose Alberta Spruce.

Doesn’t look like a mistake to me :man_shrugging:t5:

Here’s a das that I picked up for $5. Second photo is after first styling. I waited two years and repotted it last spring. The pot is a bit bigger than I would like it to be, but it works for now.

4 Likes

Here’s mine. It was originally styled as one of those twisty conical trees from the nursery and so there were big patches of foliage missing from parts.

This is my current front, though maybe I should rotate it a little since I’m letting the thinner trunk take over as the apex of the piece.

2 Likes

Here is my first Alberta. Got this last summer…in AUG. Styled it and left it alone. 2 months later all the needles fell off and the tree died! :frowning:
I live in Orange County, CA…find out too late that it can’t be styled or wired in hot weather.
Hope the one Ryan just did makes it!!


Alex