Monday, May 11, 2009

How and when to prune a baby tree (purple leaf plum)?

We purchased a young purple leaf plum tree from a garden center and planted it early last Fall. It's about 12' tall. It seems to have more branches on one side of it than the other so it bends to one side. We did stake the bottom but the top is so tall it bends with the wind. I'd like to know if I can prune it so that it's more symmetrical, how and where to cut it and when?(The flowers are done and the leaves are growing out)

How and when to prune a baby tree (purple leaf plum)?
The best time to prune a tree is right beforthe sspring - a month or so before it buds out, although any timeafter the tree goes dormant for the winter is fine.

A tree uses most of its stored energy when it pushes out new growth, leaves and flowers in the spring. It then spends much of the the remainder of the spring and summer replenishing the expended energy.

Pruning it now can severly weaken the tree as it may not have the energy to replace what you remove this year. While it probably wont kill the tree it will make it more succeptable to disease and lead to much less growth next year. Ity becomes more succeptable to disease as in warm weather hte sap that seals the wound flows much faster due to warm weather - in winter the sap thickens quickly sealing the wound.

Wait till next winter and then if you still want to prune the tree remove parts of the branches on the bushier side. Do not remove entire branches.

BUT, before you do this, examine the tree and the surroundings. Is there a reason it is growing on one side? Is one side more shaded then the other?

Also, most trees will correct for this in the long term and so the pruning is not really necessary
Reply:In my own experience pruning trees, we always wait till winter or late fall, when they become dormant. I think pruning it now, while it is growing, could hurt it.

Our baby trees have looked lop-sided at one time or another too, but they always seem to even themselves out on their own.

Good Luck!

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