Douglas-fir development

I recently acquired a young douglas-fir and was reading up on them. It doesn’t seem like it ought to be treated the same as a pine, and I was leaning towards putting it on a schedule similar to my yew (taxus baccata), which would involve removing the second-year needles soon. In the yew this encourages back budding. Does anyone know if the douglas-fir is like a pine in that removing these needles might discourage back budding? Otherwise I’ll do half removed and half left on and report back.

Sounds like a good approach to experiment - I don’t have much experience with them so will be curious what you can learn.

I do not remove needles on my firs unless they have turned brown. I have found they back bud readily when healthy. Working mostly with sub alpine fir though.

Experiment is underway. Left side with old needles removed, right side left on:

On very vigorous shoots like this I removed all the needles from last year as well:

Doing it this time of year ensures the new sidebuds are tough enough that you don’t need to worry about knocking them off by accident. Tony Tickle has a great demo of the process here:

On my taxus you can see the development is more regimented. This year’s shoots, last year’s darker needles, and new side shoots where older needles were removed:

A more vigorous branch but same pattern:

The douglas-fir looks like it side buds in a more random pattern but maybe removing needles will encourage it to send more energy to those areas:

edit: fixed image links

1 Like

I’d be interested to hear how those are pruned and developed! The douglas-fir isn’t a true fir, I think it’s more closely related to hemlock, so I’m kind of taking shots in the dark haha.I noticed the new growth makes “paintbrushes” and then extends the same as my taxus so I decided to model it after that, but I’m open to any suggestions.