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When is the best time to prune ornamental trees?

  • Botanical Garden
English

Pruning trees is easiest when they are dormant—i.e. in early spring (before the buds open) or in late fall (about a month after the leaves have fallen). The structure of the tree is very visible at this time.

Light pruning may be done during the growing season, but avoid doing so in periods of heat or drought.

Pruning when it is very cold (January and February) is also to be avoided.

Never remove more than 20% of a tree’s branches per year, to ensure it develops well and to maximize its life expectancy. Any major pruning should be done in spring, when the tree is dormant.

Dead, diseased, broken or damaged branches, as well as water sprouts, suckers and shoots, may be removed whenever they are spotted.

Recommendations specific to certain trees

Some species experience a strong flow of sap in early spring. This is the case for birch, maple and linden trees, for instance. It is best to wait until a few leaves are well developed before pruning these trees.

It is preferable to prune trees in the Rosaceae family (crab apple, mountain ash, hawthorn, etc.) in early spring, as doing so in the fall may interfere with their aouting (preparation for winter).

Tips:

Before pruning your trees, familiarize yourself with the techniques described on our website.

Use well-sharpened tools, cleaning them regularly with rubbing alcohol. Do not apply any products to the cut.

Do not cut the top of the tree and do not prune into a ball.

To learn more, read our ornamental trees and shrubs pruning section.

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