Healing a horse chestnut

Ok, don’t know how many people have had a go at horse chestnuts, I think KurtP mentioned he’d been growing a few, but I cant find much information on when to do some ‘clean up’ of scars…

I’ve got this little beast:

As you can see, its got a fair few scars that I want to at least attempt to heal up.

The only thing I could find online was general pruning advice for health, which says that avoid pruning in rain or potential to rain, as this will allow water to enter the cut site and open the tree to infection as the tree does not produce too much sap. (my italics).

This got me thinking, is it best if I try to make the cuts when the tree is moving most water (spring / summer) as this might aid in the healing (as resources are all flooding past the cut site)?

I plan on adding cut paste obviously to prevent infection/minimise water loss.

Any input on this one, either from experience or better background knowledge?

And yes I know its an odd little tree, but i sort of like the large drooping leaves.:smiley:


I have NEVER chopped a large limb, or collected a large specimine and chopped back. Clip n grow… mame…
I think it adds character…
Time… and cutpaste… I seem to remember the old wood rots, so keep an eye on punky wood centers…
You CAN get the leaves to reduce, somewhat. In spring, after the second set of leaves barely start to open, cut most or all of the first leaf off. New leaf will be forced open smaller.
I fold the 3 larger lobes and cut 2/3 back in at an angle… resulting in a v when the lobes are let loose. Later, I remove the leave back to the node.
One other trick is to cut the terminal bud as it formes, in fall or real early spring. The pair of advantageous buds at the base of each will ALWAYS be triggered and open.
I had been trying to keep my trees less than 12 inches. The normal leaves are WAY bigger than the tree…

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Thanks for that. Yes, I was reading that it was difficult to get the large wounds to heal over… hmmm it might be that I will have to deal with a fairly knocked up trunk. I think its the section that has a bit of inverse taper that I think I have to deal with. Im planning on using the little buds and branches that pop up near cut sites to grow out and heal over some of the scarring (on the branches).

I’ve not tried reducing the leaf size yet, as I’m still trying to build some chunky branches, but have been taking off the large terminal buds which as you say definetly works… i’ve actually been fertilizing too…

I also read that a complete defoliation in summer produces a second flush too. Did you ever try that, and what was you experience?

Thanks again, I know these things aren’t popular as bonsai subjects, but I think theyve got a bit of character, i like the unique leaf shape especially. Mirai forum never lets you down :grinning:

Ya defoilation… after the second set of leaves come out (positive energy point…) should be ok.
My trees never got big enough to do that.
I would try the first leaf reduction trick and CALL it a defoilation? Cut a little above the node, and let the base of the old leaves dry up and brush off.
You have noted the new buds will form back to the base. These trees will resprout from the roots if they get cut (or chewed) down.
6 trunk forest…?

ALSO, they always form in two es on a branch. There is ALWAYS two buds at the base of the terminal bud. Even if you cant see them.

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Yeah, thanks , I’m going to try that strategy…maybe soon, as the large first leaves have already opened out and become firm (‘hardened off?’)… but then that might defeat my goal of providing enough resources to try to heal some scars…

Did you ever try wiring these? I noticed that if I tried to wire during dormancy, even very small branchlets were inflexible and i wasnt willing to try to bend in fear of the snap. However when the tree is pushing or winding down in autumn the wire seems to hold. I’ve got some on at the moment, and its just starting to bite, so I will remove it, as i dont want even more scars to have to deal with.

I’ll update when i’ve tried some of this.

I actually think the group of small trees as a forest is a good idea. The interest in trying to make the individual leaves represent a ‘pad’ of foliage could be good with careful arrangement. I’m not great at design at the moment, but trying to get my eye a bit more accustomed to it.

Maybe with these trees if you can get the branches to scale properly, regardless of leaf size, theres always scope for an interesting winter silhuette.:smiley:

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