Prune blue spruce tree

Asked December 22, 2018, 2:24 PM EST

I have a blue spruce tree that was supposed to be a dwarf. It isn't. It is close to the house and is getting too big. Can I prune it now? How much?
Pictures attached

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

Yes, spruce can be pruned for shape and size in the spring. Please be aware that evergreens are pruned differently than deciduous plants and take care to think about how you are shaping the tree before you cut. Sterilize any cutting implements repeatedly when cutting to reduce the spread of disease.
Further consideration - the trunk size will continue to increase over the years even if you keep the foliage pruned. Also, if pruning to keep the branches away from the siding , be aware that windstorms may still cause branches to lash the side of the house. Consider moving or removing now versus future upkeep.

Spruce (Picea)

Spruces have individual angled needles with brown pegs at the base of each needle

Spruces have individual, angled needles with brown pegs at the base of each needle. The pegs remain on the twig after the needles drop, resulting in a rough twig. Buds are scattered along the twigs of the newest growth. Cones are long and pendulous. Although spruces need very little pruning, bottom branches may die with age and can be removed.

  • For a formal shape, prune new growth in the spring. Shear in late spring, after new growth has expanded.
  • To reduce the size of a branch, cut back to a lateral branch or a visible dormant bud. This can be done at any time.
  • To repair a broken leader, cut off the broken branch and tie one of the shorter side shoots upright onto a splint, training it to become the new leader. Remove the tie after one year. If two leaders develop, remove the weaker one.