Spruce back budding development query

Hi everyone,

down here in Australia, our spruces are beginning to elongate - seasonally it’s still early spring because its been wet and colder than usual.

I have a question about a Picea glauca (NOT dwarf Alberta nana) that I have that is a little leggy, but healthy. I want to promote back budding so that I can prune back to those buds in order to compact it - and for the last few years have been pinching new growth until I watched Ryan’s elongating species teaching which raised some questions and explained why I was getting the results that I am.

So my question is - to promote backbudding is the best approach to let the new growth elongate and fertilizer heavily?

If so, when will buds become obvious and then when would I be able to prune back to those buds?

Hi Patrick,
I have found this which may help you in deciding how to prune

Picea/Spruce Bonsai Styling, Pruning and Wiring (bonsai4me.com)

Hope it’s useful for you.

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I’m in NZ and definitely agree spring has been late and wet this year! I tend to agree that you won’t force back buds to appear if you pinch the elongating growth, it will cause existing interior buds to grow with more vigor and more buds at the whorls at the end of the branch. To get those interior buds you need to let the growth run until you see them develop and put on needle mass and then cut back the elongated growth or pinch if you have the desired silhouette.

I’ve heard of people withholding fertiliser during spring and then fertilising heavy in autumn while the tree is in vascular growth in order to not waste too much of the previous season’s stored energy on foliar growth but I don’t know if that’s a valid technique or not, haven’t really tried it.

Thanks Richard. The tree is actually a really nice family Christmas tree in a pot, but it got a little leggy because I had it for quite a few years before beginning bonsai - then as a beginner I was just pinching new growth and had not come across Ryan’s approach. then I join Mirai and listened to his elongating growth method for development of trees and thought “Uh Oh" and “Ah Ha” at the same time. I can see that it is heading to the pom pom on sticks style in the years to come, so I’m going to cut a few branches right back to let light into the top of the branches and leave everything else on without pinching and just grow the daylights out of it. I gather it’s then a bit of a wait and see if it pops buds.

Thanks again.

Penny Farthing Pat