When and Why to Pinch New Growth on Spruce-

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Source: Crataegus Bonsai Blog.

Of course we all love fiddling with our bonsai, and pinching is one of those fiddly things. And spruce, playing into our tactile desires, is a tree we can pinch. Back budding is created by pinching the shoot tip. Normally a spruce’s back budding is most prolific at the union where the shoot began growing. And shoot density thereby increases. When do we apply this technique? Break the spruce shoot as it elongates in the spring, when not yet hardened off Too tight a bud, and the fingers can’t get a purchase Too elongated, and pinching will often remove the whole hardened shoot Partway out, and the shoot is still tender (this is like the three bears…) Pinch the strong ones first, then few days later pinch the next ones that have come out; they don’t all come out at the same time High temps will make this cycle go faster Taking vacations during spruce pinching season is naughty How do we pinch? Pinch with the fleshy part of the finger pad Fingernails can break needle foliage The goal is to snap the shoot and leave the foliage undamaged, and the finger pad does this well Too early to pinch these buds. Selected shoot to pinch—mostly out, but not yet hardened off Grabbed with the finger pads, the shoot is snapped with an upward or downward movement  The shoot now broken roughly in half. In a way, a beekeeper does something similar: takes half the honey, leaves half for the…

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