Japanese maple is a deciduous shrub or small tree well-suited for landscape designs. Found in all type of yards, this elegant woody plant is native to Japan, China and Korea, but is now cultivated in other parts of the world also, mainly for its attractive leaf colors and shapes. Since the Japanese maple is highly sought-after, it is quite expensive and owners prefer to give their best care and attention, to maintain the health and beauty of the tree. The main characteristic of a Japanese maple tree is the drastic change in the leaves during the fall season. Pruning Japanese maples is vital to restore or enhance the natural form and bring out their best for summer and winter viewing. Pruning is not required, in case, space is not a constraint. However, with less space available for the tree, pruning becomes a quintessential component of housing a Japanese maple. To know the instructions for pruning a Japanese maple, go through the following lines.
How To Prune A Japanese Maple
Collecting the Pruning Tools
Since blunt tools can result in cuts and injuries to the trees, getting the right garden tools is very essential for pruning Japanese maples. Use of inappropriate equipment can also cause diseases and pest infestations. For cutting branches as thick as your middle finger, use bypass pruners while for cutting larger branches, a pruning saw would be fine.
When to Prune a Japanese Maple
The best time to prune Japanese maples is from late fall to midwinter. This is when the trees are leafless and dormant. While the maples can be lightly pruned during any season, spring should be avoided, as this is the time when sap rises.
What Branches to Prune
The main aim behind pruning is to improve the tree’s natural and healthy growth habit. Hence, it is important to carefully select the branches that require pruning. During the first pruning season, get rid of dead, broken or deformed branches and twigs. Next are the crossing branches, narrow-angled branches, parallel growing branches and inward growing twigs.
Pruning Japanese Maple Branches
- Since the Japanese maples have an opposite branch pattern, unlike the alternate branch pattern in other trees, pruning should begin from the bottom up and work inside out.
- First, prune away the dead and overlapping branches. Dead branches are easily recognizable, as they are leafless, brittle and dull gray in color.
- Next, cut the main branches growing between two healthy buds or branches. This is known as selective heading cut. Cut the branch close to the base, ensuring that no damage is done to other buds and branches.
- The side branches attached to a healthy branch should be pruned to the branch collar only. Leave a swelling part where the branch joins the trunk, as this will speed up healing.
- For cutting larger branches, make cuts half way through the branch. Then, cut the branch leaving the branch collar. Doing so will prevent the limbs of the branch from breaking.
- Before pruning, examine your tree from different angles and not what and where to prune. Do not rush. Avoid cutting, if in doubt.
- Do not cut the tips of the branches, as this will lead to rapid, unhealthy growth.
- Prune branches so as to give the tree a balanced appearance. Do not cut off large branches to small side ones, making the tree unbalanced. Pruning the branches lightly will limit re-growth and prevent the bark from sun scorching.
- Always keep your pruners clean and sharp. In case, the pruners are being used a lot, sharpen them twice a year.