More Pruning Tips for Japanese Maples

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This article will teach you how to prune a Japanese Maple Tree.
by Brooks Wilson · Zone 5A · -20° to -15° F to Zone 8B · 15° to 20° F · Pruning · 0 Comments · August 29, 2010 · 53,639 views

More Japanese Maple Pruning Tips

In Japan, apprentices are not allowed to do any pruning until they are masters, in 10 or 15 years. They only pick up the pruning debris. If you don't have that kind of time, here's a short course with more tips on the basics of pruning a Japanese maple.

  • Broken, dead or deformed branches. Winterkill generally shows up on extremities - branch tips and small twigs. You'll also often find deadwood at the bottom and inside of a tree, where branches have been shaded out.
  • Crossing branches. They often rub against each other, removing bark and allowing diseases and insects to enter a tree.
  • Branches growing inward or in the wrong direction. These might include branches growing skyward on a tree that has a weeping form.
  • Narrow-angled branches, sometimes called narrow crotches. These occur when two branches grow at angles less than 45 degrees from each other. Bark can become trapped in these narrow junctures, making them more prone to breakage. Beginners beware, it's best to consult an arborist for large branches with included bark.
  • Branches growing parallel. Thinning these branches creates definition between branches.

When To Prune a Japanese maple

Beginners will find it easier to prune when trees are leafless and dormant in late fall to midwinter. Light pruning can be done any season except spring, when sap is rising.

What To Prune On a Japanese Maple

The goal of pruning is to encourage the tree's natural and healthy growth habit. If you don't know your particular tree's habit, do a Google image search to see what it's supposed to look like. Look the tree over carefully, even getting under it and looking up, to identify what you want to prune.

You'll want to get rid of:

Tools For Pruning a Japanese Maple

Use bypass pruners to cut branches as thick as your middle finger and smaller. Use a pruning saw for larger limbs. Make sure blades are sharp.

Buy Pruning Tools to Prune your Japanese Maple online at Gardener Direct

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