General Discussion:

When and How should I Prune a Bloodgood Maple

Messages posted to thread:

Ed04-Feb-07 02:07 PM EST
pata27-Feb-07 08:08 PM EST 3a   
Vicky Whaley03-Mar-07 10:22 AM EST 4b   

Subject: When and How should I Prune a Bloodgood Maple
From: Ed
Date: 04-Feb-07 02:07 PM EST

A few years ago I prunned our maple tree only to find the next year it produced all these new shoots growing straight up making the tree looking even worse than before. I am guessing I did something wrong when and how should I tackle the prunning??

Subject: RE: When and How should I Prune a Bloodgood Maple
From: pata
Zone: 3a
Date: 27-Feb-07 08:08 PM EST

Maples tend to have a strong sap flow in early spring. If you cut it now it will "bleed" actually leak sap from the cuts. It is very stressful on the tree. Best to wait until the leaves are fully open before you prune. In my zone that's late May early June.

When you prune, trim to just above an outward facing bud or branch. That will give it a spreading look not so staight up and down. And be gentle, don't take more than 1/3 of the tree away. You can always prune a bit more next year but I suspect if you prune too much this year it may stress and send up more suckers or straight up shoots again.

Hope that helps

Subject: RE: When and How should I Prune a Bloodgood Maple
From: Vicky Whaley
Zone: 4b
Date: 03-Mar-07 10:22 AM EST

Sounds to me like you have 'water shoots' or epicormic growth. Often when you prune a tree heavily it responds by putting on lots of growth. To avoid this you should never remove more than 1/3 (Please for your trees sake cut less off!) of the branches. Acer palmatum `Bloodgood’ like all maples has actively flowing sap in the spring therefore it is best not to prune them in the fall, winter or early spring as they will not have an opportunity to callus (form wound tissue) before the sap starts to rise. I would recommend pruning in the early fall or late summer. I would also make sure that it is not during a drought.

This being said, the reason the growth was straight up was because of the method you used to prune and not the season. I often prune things at non-textbook times but the secret is to make sure you do it well.

So: How to Prune. I think of pruning as an art and everyone has their own techniques. Yet there are some key principles to follow. 1. Make sure you take no more then 1/3 the material off the specimen. 2. Look at the plant, for how to prune, take advice from its growth habit and make it look natural 3. Leave the branch collar intact, this will allow for better callus development. 4. Start by cutting out inward growth and crossing branches. 5. After this stand back and take a look, have a cup of tea if you have too. This break may stop you from over-pruning; it is like a ‘sober second thought’. 6. Bring back any material to a bud that faces to the outside of the plant. You need to visualize where that bud will go when it is a branch. Try and make sure it fills in any gaps.

If you feel you need to take more then 1/3 of the plant off conduct your pruning over 2 or three years. Just remember the best pruning jobs look like very little has been done, even if it took you all day.

How to Fix your Epicormic Growth Problem well, I don’t know if you can, you have effectively created a pollard out of your small tree. If you want to try to repair the damage start by removing only very few of the worst upwards growths each season. Chopping them all off will only result in the same thing but worse. FYI though, the technique of pollarding was used in Europe for firewood and basket weaving production. They would encourage this growth as it created a new crop every so many years without replanting.

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