Pruning Emerald Green Arborvitae leaders

SidewaysLS4(5)October 6, 2011

I have 2 of everyone's favorite big box store tree...the Emerald Green Arborvitae...complete with 3 and 4 competing primary leaders.

They are around 5 feet high now, and I rather like them. I plan on simply making a ziptie ring around the current leader cluster for snow support in case they need some. For future growth however, I would only like to see 1 or 2 leaders going up. How could I accomplish this?

Should I just cut back the unwanted leaders? Will the trees then focus growth to the topmost leaders? How far down should I prune the leaders to effectly refocus growth? Does this sound like something that might actually work?

Thanks for any tips!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


i dont like zip ties... because they have a half life of a million years.. and sooner or later... you forget and kill things ....

you want one leader ... you need to start removing the others.. there is NO need to do them all at once ... make it 3 year plan

i would cut one back to at least half way .. by which point.. what is left should be pretty strong.. and not bend ... you will have to go back every few years.. to make sure it does not make a new strong leader ...

you WILL HAVE a gaping hole.. and the plant will fill that in next season ...

i would also consider cutting back another by 25% ... and next year.. shorten that one 50% .... and jsut work your way around ....

i would use twine on the exterior in nov.. and just tie at the bottom .... and wrap it around the tree.. its not torture.. it doesnt have to be all that tight .. you just want to hold the branches together enough.. that snow can not accumulate inside.. and start splaying them out ...

is this a major issue in your area??? have you seen others damaged??? i used to tie mine every year.. and simply gave up ... during particularly strong storms.. i just go out in the middle of the storm.. and knock snow off.. to not allow significant buildup ...


    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 10:12AM
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I dont know if snow is such a big issue, just read it on the internet :). There is one house in the neighborhood with what I think is the same variety (but maybe 2x+ the size) and seems just fine.

So just slow trimming down, eh? Sounds like a plan. Do you think I should wait until they are fully rooted next year? I just planted them (7 gallon pot specials)

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 10:52AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

true... remove no leaves.. on a recent transplant..

very leaf is a food making machine.. so as to encourage good root growth ... next fall would be a good time to start ...

if you want to tie inside... i used to use ALL COTTON clothes line ... yes.. you can still find it at the hardware store ... that way.. it will eventually rot off.. if you forget about it for a decade or two ...

do NOT get the stuff that is cotton exterior.. and plastic inside ... it will never rot off ...

the damage is usually associated with that once every 5 years.. or decade storm ... and is usually associated with an ice storm.. after a few inches of snow ... thats where the weight comes from .... these storms are unpredictable.. and you do years of tying.. just for that sporadic worst case scenario ... i just came to the conclusion i would remove them if the worst happened.. i am not in love with mine ...


    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 1:22PM
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Sounds good, thanks for the tips!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 9:10PM
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