When to Prune an Ornamental Cherry Tree
Pruning ornamental cherry trees is an important task for keeping your trees healthy and vibrant. Professional gardeners and experienced tree owners suggest that the ideal time to prune an ornamental cherry tree is when the tree is still in its dormant period. It is during this time that the tree has the least amount of stress, making it the best time to shape and manage its growth.
Before you begin pruning, it is important to consider the specific type of ornamental cherry tree and its growth habit. Each tree species has its own requirements and when pruning is typically done. Pruning while a tree is dormant prevents the spread of diseases and pest infestations. Apple, pear, and cherry trees have a higher susceptibility to pests and diseases unless properly pruned.
Considerations for Pruning an Ornamental Cherry Tree
When planning to prune an ornamental cherry tree, you should first consider the tree’s growth habit. A long-growing tree such as an apple or cherry tree is best pruned in the summer, when new growth has to be removed completely. A tree that grows laterally and has a bushier appearance should be pruned in the spring and fall. Pruning in summer helps keep the new growth in check and prevent the branches from becoming overcrowded or entwined.
In addition, those trees that flower year-round, such as some varieties of ornamental cherries, should have the winter pruning minimized to avoid cutting off buds and ruining their blooming cycle. Chopping off more than a quarter of the length of the branches can highly damage the shape and health of such trees.
Benefit of Pruning an Ornamental Cherry Tree
Pruning an ornamental cherry tree has several benefits. For example, if your tree is overgrowing, pruning can help shape the tree and keep it aesthetically pleasing in addition to improving sunlight penetration. Furthermore, pruning can also reduce the spread of fungal pathogens. Fungal pathogens, such as rust and powdery mildew, are easily spread through infected tissues and are therefore often an issue in cherry trees. Pruning infected branches can help reduce the spread and spread of these fungal diseases.
Tools Needed for Pruning Cherry Trees
When preparing to prune your cherry trees, it is important to have the right tools. Pruning tools range from hand tools such as secateurs, pruners, and saws; to powered tools, such as pruning shears, hedge trimmers, and chainsaws. Professional gardeners generally recommend using sharper, more precise, and higher quality tools for trimming ornamental cherry trees. It is also important to use the proper technique when pruning trees. Incorrectly pruning trees can cause serious damage to the tree, leading to a decreased lifespan and decreased health.
Removing Dead or Diseased Branches
One of the most important types of pruning for ornamental cherry trees is the removal of dead or diseased branches. Dead branches are weak and can be a hazard if left on the tree. Diseased branches are a source of infection to the rest of the tree and should be removed promptly. To identify dead or diseased branches, look for branches that have no leaves or buds, and look sunken, discolored, or have dark spots. These branches should be cut at the collar, where the branch meets the trunk.
Cutting Back Upright Branches
At times, it may be necessary to cut back some of the tree’s branches to improve its shape or to control its size. This type of pruning can help create a more balanced and aesthetically pleasing tree. To do this, look for upright branches that are competing for space or are growing too tall. Carefully cut these branches at the junction with the trunk, making sure to cut just above a bud or new growth. It is important to avoid completely cutting off a branch as this can cause it to die and become a breeding ground for pests and disease.
Reducing Heavier Branches
Occasionally, it is necessary to reduce the size of some of the heavier branches. Heavy branches are generally located on the lower part of the tree, and they can become too large over time and put strain on the tree. These branches should be carefully pruned back to one-third or two-thirds of the original length, depending on their condition.
Rejuvenation pruning is a special type of pruning for older trees that have become established. Rejuvenation pruning involves removing almost all of the older branches and shoots to make room for new growth. This type of pruning should only be done to trees that are healthy and structurally sound. To safely do this type of pruning, two or three cuts should be made at the base of each stem to be removed, allowing the stem to break off more easily and lessening the risk of damage.
Thinning Out the Tree
Thinning out a cherry tree helps to create an open, balanced structure and allows more light and air to penetrate the tree canopy. The best time to do this is late winter and early spring when the tree is still mostly dormant. To thin out a cherry tree, look for branches that are competing with each other and those that are crossing each other. Carefully cut these branches at the junction with the trunk.
Maintaining a Healthy Ornamental Cherry Tree
Pruning ornamental cherry trees is an important task to keep the tree healthy and beautiful. It is important to remember that all types of pruning should be done when the tree is in its dormant period, and each tree species has its own requirements and best times to prune. Additionally, having the right tools and knowing the proper pruning techniques will help ensure that your cherry tree stays healthy for years to come.