Inula Royleana
Midwest Gardening
Pruning Specific Tree Varieties

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Each tree has a special pruning time, depending on the time of year it produces fruit or flowers.  Trees that produce ornamental fruits should not be pruned until after the fruit drops, or in early spring.

 

These summer flowering trees flower on the current season’s growth.  Non-flowering deciduous trees are also noted. Prune in winter while still dormant or in early spring before growth begins:

Blackhaw (Viburnum pruniflorum)  Prune dead branches in early spring.  Preferred method of pruning is by thinning.  If watersprout growth becomes a problem, delay pruning until midsummer or treat pruning wounds with sprouting inhibitor chemicals.

Chaste tree (Vitex)  Prune dead branches in early spring.  Since Chaste tree produces blooms in late spring to early summer, and often blooms sporatically until fall, dormant pruning will allow for the most flowering.  To allow fruiting over winter, prune in very early spring before any growth begins.

Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia sp.)  Prune dead branches in early spring.  If watersprout growth becomes a problem, delay pruning until midsummer or treat pruning wounds with sprouting inhibitor chemicals.  Pruning is not necessary to produce or encourage flowering.  Avoid pruning in late fall before the first frost, which will force new growth and prevent the tree from going dormant.  If the tree has not gone fully dormant, a freeze may kill the tree.

Goldenraintree (Koelreuteria sp.)  Prune dead branches in early spring. While still dormant in very early spring, prune young trees to train a good shape.  Remove lower branches for clearance and thin modestly to produce more branches.  Prune less frequently as the tree matures.

Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)  Mimosa’s growth habit is open, airy and spreading with low branches.  To preserve the natural form of the tree pruning is not recommended other than early spring pruning for dead branches.  Only if necessary, prune the previous year’s growth back to five or six buds in very early spring.

Peegee Hydrangea  (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’)  Prune in winter or very early spring to reduce size primarily by thinning, which will also produce larger flowers.  Prune to preserve and dry flower heads in early fall.

Smoke tree  (Cotinus coggygria)  When pruning for tree form, only remove crossed or wayward branches in winter or very early spring.  Branches may also be removed from the bottom up the trunk for clearance.  Removing broken or damaged limbs in the growing season will cause excessive sap to “bleed”.  If possible wait at least until after flowering.

Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)  Sourwood rarely needs pruning.  It is a rather large ornamental tree grown for it’s graceful arching branches, as well as it’s flower racemes and beautiful fall color.  Pruning branch ends will ruin the natural form.

Tamarisk  (Tamarix chinensis and ramosisima) These varieties are a summer flowering trees that produces blooms on old wood.  If size needs to be controlled prune back branches 1/3 to 1/2 when the foliage buds begin to swell or before, and one or two old branches may be removed each year.  (Spring flowering varieties include T. parviflora and T. tetranda)

These spring flowering trees flower on previous season’s growth.  Prune after flowering:

Bradford Pear  (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford”)  Produces shoots or suckers at the base and upright succulent shoots (watersprouts) on branches - remove while young.   If watersprout growth becomes a problem, delay pruning until midsummer or treat pruning wounds with sprouting inhibitor chemicals.

Flowering Cherry (Prunus)  Produces shoots or suckers at the base and upright succulent shoots (watersprouts) on branches - remove while young.   If watersprout growth becomes a problem, delay pruning until midsummer or treat pruning wounds with sprouting inhibitor chemicals.

Crabapple  (Malus)  Prune dead branches in early spring before flowering.  In late spring after blooms have faded and foliage is leafed out and thickening for summer, prune to shape if necessary.  Pruning should not be done after the first of August other than to remove damage.  After leaves have fallen, additional pruning may be done as needed.  Produces shoots or suckers at the base and upright succulent shoots (watersprouts) on branches - remove while young.  If watersprout growth becomes a problem, delay pruning until midsummer or treat pruning wounds with sprouting inhibitor chemicals.

Dogwood (Cornus)  Prune dead branches in early spring before flowering.  In late spring after blooms have faded and foliage is leafed out and thickening for summer, prune to shape if necessary.  Pruning should not be done after the first of August other than to remove damage.  After leaves have fallen, additional pruning may be done as needed.

Fringe tree (Chionanthus)  Fringe tree should need little pruning. Prune dead or damaged branches in early spring, winter kill in colder climates should be evident by March.  Preferred method of pruning to reduce size is thinning, but may be lightly shaped by trimming.  The flower buds set in July, so if pruning is necessary, it should be done immediately after flowering to avoid losing next years’ flower buds.

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)  Prune dead branches in early spring.  In late spring when foliage is leafed out and thickening for summer, prune to thin or shape as necessary.  Pruning should not be done after the first of August other than to remove damage.  After leaves have fallen, additional pruning may be done as necessary.

Redbud  (Cercis) Prune dead branches in early spring before flowering.  In late spring after blooms have faded and foliage is leafed out and thickening for summer, prune to shape if necessary.  Pruning should not be done after the first of August other than to remove damage.  After leaves have fallen, additional pruning may be done as needed.

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia soulangiana)  While young, a Saucer Magnolia may be pruned to tree form by removing its’ multiple stems, leaving one central trunk.  Or lower limbs may be removed from all stems to maintain clearance for mowing.  As the tree matures, very light pruning to shape the crown should be done after flowering.  Severe pruning or “topping” is not advised, magnolia will not respond well and could take years to recover.  Prune aggressive branches after flowering to increase density and improve flowering.

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)  Star Magnolia rarely needs pruning other than to maintain a tree form. Remove lower foliage on the multi stemmed trunk to maintain clearance and show off the trunk.

Shadbush (Serviceberry) (Amelanchier)  To prune to tree form, while young select a strong straight stem and clear foliage to a desired clearance height.  Or clear foliage on multiple stems.  Prune branches by thinning, removing crossed and intertwined branches.

Tamarisk  (Tamarix)  Spring flowering varieties include T. parviflora and T. tetranda .  If size needs to be controlled prune back branches 1/3 to 1/2 after flowering, and one or two old branches may be removed each year.  (T. chinensis and  ramosisima are summer flowering)

White Fringetree  (Chionanthus virginicus)  Fringe tree should need little pruning. Prune dead or damaged branches in early spring, winter kill in colder climates should be evident by March.  Preferred method of pruning to reduce size is thinning, but may be lightly shaped by trimming.  The flower buds set in July, so if pruning is necessary, it should be done immediately after flowering to avoid losing next years’ flower buds.

These small trees produce excessive sap from pruning in late winter or early spring.  Prune in autumn:

Birch

Dogwood

Elm

Maple

Walnut

Yellowwood

To realize their best ornamental value, these ornamental trees should not be pruned other than to remove damaged or diseased branches:

Weeping Japanese Maples

Weeping Mulberries

Weeping Crab

Weeping Cherry

Special pruning for ornamental trees with horizontal branching, such as Japanese Maples and Hawthornes:

Trees with horizontal branching can be pruned to create layers of branches, exposing the trunk and the beautiful branching structure.  Remove all branches reaching upward and downward, leaving only the completely horizontal growing branches.  This is particularly beautiful with the laceleaf maples.

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