Depending on your climate, trees will grow at different rates during the year. When you prune, you can promote new growth in the spring but also slow the tree’s growth. This can give the tree more structural strength and help it to grow healthy.
The best time to prune trees is late winter or early spring. During this time, trees heal wounds and prepare for the dormant season. This is when they are least vulnerable to attack from insects or disease pathogens. However, they are still susceptible to disease if pruned at the wrong time of year. If you need to know which trees you have, it’s a good idea to get some free advice from your local Cooperative Extension Service or a certified arborist.
When pruning a tree, the most important thing to remember is to cut branches before they become bare. This will help prevent unsightly stubs and rubbing. In addition, pruning branches before they become exhausted can prevent the tree from developing a wound susceptible to infection.
Aside from the danger of infection, trees can be prone to other problems when pruned at the wrong time of the year. For instance, insects can feed on the sap at the wound and harbor pathogens. The tree may spread through the root system if the tree is infected. The tree may then die. In addition, insects can host tree-killing fungi.
Many types of shrubs and trees bloom in the spring, and they should be pruned after they have finished blooming if you need to know which shrubs and trees are best for your landscape, research online or in a Cooperative Extension Service office. For example, hydrangeas, roses, and clematis bloom on old wood, so you will want to prune them during the late winter or early spring. Other spring-blooming trees and shrubs include redbuds, magnolias, and crabapples.
When pruning trees, you should also be aware of the difference between blooming trees and evergreen shrubs. Many shrubs and trees, such as roses, hydrangeas, and clematis, bloom on old wood, while others, such as azaleas, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas, bloom on new wood. You will want to prune these shrubs and trees in the spring after they have bloomed to avoid pruning them during the summer.
If you are pruning an ornamental tree, such as maple or birch, you should wait until it has finished blooming in the spring. These trees are the least likely to suffer from unsightly watersprouts. If you are pruning an ornamental tree, you should remove any suckers that have grown from the tree’s base. This is to avoid spreading the disease.
Some shrubs and trees, such as honey locusts, should be pruned in late winter. If you are pruning these trees, prune them in dry conditions. Otherwise, the insects may host tree-killing fungi and bacteria.