How to Prune White Spruce


White spruce is a deciduous tree found growing across northern North America and into Canada. Used for lumber products like furniture, crates and pallets, white spruce also provides food and shelter for wildlife species. Historically, Native Americans used white spruce for shelter, fuel and medicine. White spruce has slightly drooping branches and can grow up to 80 feet in height. The bark of the white spruce is gray-brown and scaly. The needles are evergreen and crowded on the upper sides of the branch. White spruce is found growing along riverbanks, bogs, and slopes and prefers well-drained soil.

Step 1

Prune white spruce at the end of fall and after a majority of the needles have dropped. This will allow for strong growth the following growing season.

Step 2

Prune back the white spruce with lopping shears, which can make sharp cuts up to 2 inches in diameter. Thin back the spruce by cutting off weak and broken branches to their point of origin. Thinning produces a more open tree and emphasizes the branch's internal structure and strengthens the tree.

Step 3

Remove all lateral branches that are twisted and crossing each other. Cut off any pest-infested or diseased branches by removing the entire branch. This will avoid contaminating the rest of the tree.

Step 4

Prune to one main stem and cut off any competing twigs on young white spruce trees. This will free up essential nutrients to the central branch and create a hardier tree. Remove any sucker shoots, or small vigorous shoots growing from the root or stem of the tree, as soon as they become visible.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear protective gloves when using sharp lopping shears.

Things You'll Need

  • Lopping shears


  • White Spruce Plant Guide: USDA
  • Texas A&M University Extension
Keywords: pruning white spruce, cutting white spruce, white spruce

About this Author

Callie Barber is a writer and photographer in North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Forbes and Automotive News magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.