Pruning Japanese Maples
Japanese Maples are the shining stars of my shade garden. Every January, I look forward to a full day of pruning my maples.
After 10 years and 81 Japanese Maples, I've come up with these tips for better pruning.
Step One...The Basics
1. Use sharp pruners.
2. Mix a jar full of 8 parts water and 2 parts bleach. Dip your pruners in the jar between maples to avoid spreading disease.
3. Wear eye protection. You will get a branch in the eye if you don't. This year I got a branch up my nose!
4. In the midwest, do major pruning late December to late January. Touch up pruning can be done in summer.
Step Two...What to Cut
1. All dead or diseased branches.
2. Old, short stubs. I call them my old pruning mistakes. Cut them back to the main trunk.
3. Ugly branches. Some just never look good or have sharp, right angle turns.
4. Branches that grow into the middle of the tree instead of out.
5. Small, weak branches that grow from the fork of two or three strong branches.
6. Horizontal branches growing close to or along each other. Remove the weakest one.
7. Tiny, twiggy branches below main tree forks.
8. Branches that wrap around another branch.
9. If two branches rub together, remove one.
- Any broken branches.
Step Three...How to Cut
1. Work from the bottom up.
2. Work on one limb at a time from the main trunk out.
3. If in doubt, leave the branch for next year. You can't glue it back on once it's cut.
4. Step back and look at your tree. Try to keep it balanced.
5. Don't prune too much in one year.
Using these tips will give you a beautiful and healthy Japanese Maple all year long.