Winter Pruning

Snow Fountain Cherry

Normally this time of year, I am out lecturing about all sorts of things, including pruning. This year, because of the pandemic, no. I am not one of those speakers who has decided to present via computer, although I am enjoying other speakers who have decided to do so. I work on screens daily–I don’t want to come home and work with them in the evening. Gardening had been my escape from that.

One of the things I used to talk about when I spoke to clubs about pruning was to know your limitations. I always said that it was far better to call in a professional to prune large trees than to attempt to do it yourself. And while this cherry wasn’t “large” in the sense of height, its limbs were extremely congested. We decided that we needed a professional to come thin it out for us.

You can tell by the size of some of the limbs that were removed here–and by the girth of the trunk–that this tree is quite mature. Not only did I not have the strength to prune this tree properly, but I also didn’t have the proper tools to do it cleanly. And that’s equally important.

Cherries, particularly these with a weeping habit, can be prone to disease, especially if not pruned correctly. The last thing I wanted to do was bungle this.

No, I didn’t cut the top off the tree in the photo. I am trying to show you the huge circle underneath where there is no vegetation. That’s how large the branch canopy used to be. Now, with the branch canopy opened up, light will get underneath the tree so that my beautiful moss can fill in there.

I have seen these trees shorn at the bottom, just like a someone took a bowl and placed it on top and cut around the base. Clearly that’s not the proper pruning method.

The Spoiler’s method was to just hack off anything that got in the lawn mower’s way–also not proper.

This is the proper way to prune–from the inside out, to open up the tree. I can’t wait to see it bloom!

2 thoughts on “Winter Pruning

  1. tonytomeo January 28, 2021 / 1:48 am

    As a native of the Santa Clara Valley (formerly famous for fruits and nuts), I am VERY critical of pruning fruit trees. I prefer to prune their flowering counterparts the same way. Lately though, I have been forcing myself to not prune them in winter like the fruiting trees, but instead, leaving them to bloom (without pruning) in spring, and harden off afterward, before pruning them in summer to promote fluffier growth that blooms better, even if such growth would not be desirable for fruiting trees. It is not easy for me!

  2. gardendaze January 28, 2021 / 5:06 am

    I can see where that approach would work for many things-you will get a sense Friday when you see my badly overgrown (and mangled Japanese maple) why this particular tree might have been better pruned in the winter. If we had left it until spring, with its heavy canopy of leaves, it really would have been tough.

    But your words give me hope. I had the idea that I could only prune those maples now, in the freezing cold. If I can do it later, they will get done this year. It’s past time!


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