Can this plant be pruned

Asked February 26, 2019, 8:11 AM EST

What kind of evergreen is this and what is the best way to trim it down? Can the height be trimmed and the top fill back in to make a triangle?

St. Mary's County Maryland

3 Responses

This is not a species that tolerates pruning well. Spruce trees do not produce new growth on old wood. This means that if you cut into an area with brown bark (not green), it will not put out new growth. Make pruning cuts only where needles are still attached and green.

Alberta spruces have only 2 to 4 inches of new growth per year, so this does not give you a lot of area to prune.. They may show needle browning and dieback if pruned too often and bare branches if pruned back too far. Fortunately, they hold their compact, conical shape very well without pruning.

If growth must be limited to even less than 2 to 4 inches a year, dwarf Alberta spruce trees can be sheared in early spring as growth begins. Remove only about an inch of growth each time, allowing the tree to get a bit larger each year. (So, it will still get bigger even when pruned.) If a branch must be pruned back beyond the needles, remove the entire branch at the trunk. If the tree has outgrown its space, remove it and plant a new tree.

They top out at about 10-12 feet, so you may just want to leave it alone as a specimen tree. It will naturally maintain its nice pyramidal shape without pruning.
This is a good-looking Alberta spruce and you probably don't want to stress it, which can lead to insect problems and an unsightly tree.


Thank you for your detailed response!