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How to Prune a Flowering Cherry Blossom Tree

Rachel is a passionate plantsperson, YouTuber and author living in Ireland. She grows a wide range of hardy subtropical and tropical plants.

Prunus serrulata 'Shogetsu'

Prunus serrulata 'Shogetsu'

Today I want to share with you how to prune flowering cherry blossom trees. Learn how to prune the occasional branch from your tree to improve its appearance and promote good symmetry. You don't need to do this every year, just whenever is necessary.

It's important to carefully choose which branches you prune from your cherry blossom tree.

It's important to carefully choose which branches you prune from your cherry blossom tree.

When Should I Prune My Cherry Blossom Tree?

When deciding to prune your cherry tree, the first thing you should know is that all trees in this family, in the prunus genus, should only be pruned in midsummer. This is because cherry trees are susceptible to a specific fungal disease called Silverleaf. This can cause the death of branches. The spores of Silverleaf are active and in the wind from September onwards. So I recommend pruning in either June or July.

Make sure you remove any dead branches year around.

Make sure you remove any dead branches year around.

How to Choose Which Branches to Remove

Stand back and take a good, long look at the cherry blossom tree you're thinking of pruning. View the tree from all sides. Trees are organic living things, and that means they're unlikely to be perfectly symmetrical. Embrace the imperfection, but assess what you can do to improve the look of your tree by removing one or two branches.

  1. Remove any diseased or dead branches. This should actually be done at any time of year that you notice them.
  2. Remove any crossing branches. Crossing branches will rub and damage bark, and that leaves your tree open to infection.
  3. Evaluate the appearance. Here you may wish to remove a lower branch so that your tree has a clearer trunk. You may wish to remove a particularly long or awkwardly pointing branch, or you may wish to remove a branch that's upsetting the tree's symmetry.
Be careful not to damage healthy bark when pruning cherry trees.

Be careful not to damage healthy bark when pruning cherry trees.

Tips for Removing Branches

  • Use sharp loppers or a saw and aim for a clean cut, where the wood is not left jagged.
  • Cut close to the trunk, but not too close that you're in danger of damaging healthy wood when cutting.
  • Avoid ugly snags. Snags are the cut stumps of branches that stick out from the main trunk in a ridiculous manner.
  • Remember, branches can be heavy, so avoid cutting through one in a way that the weight makes it fall and break. Take the time to remove heavy branches with three cuts. The first one near the end of the branch, the second near the middle, and the final one near the trunk. If you do make a jagged cut or a snag, tidy it up afterward.

© 2021 Rachel Darlington

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