Pruning deciduous

What are the pros and cons of pruning desiduous trees right after leaf drop compared to just before bud burst?

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For starters, Japanese maples (and my vine maples) will bleed profusely if you prune just before bud burst.

For other species, doing it after bud burst will allow woulds to heal faster.

If you prune right after leaf drop (or even before, if the color has changed) the tree can potentially still have enough time to start the healing process before winter dormancy.

I just rewatched the Winter Preparation stream last night and Ryan spent a bit of time talking about fall/winter pruning on deciduous (the stream had a zelkova in it).

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Timing for puning deciduous trees depends on what you want to acheive. Fall is the best time for scars to heal and maples blead the least… but if you are trying to thicken branches then you need to hold onto leaves as long as possible and prune out later in fall.

You can incorage back budding and reduce leaf size with tip bud removal on some species like european hornbeam or oaks as their buds swell in spring, but you need to do this only to stong trees that were firtalized in the previous autumn.

So pruning just before or after leaf drop is best, but some pruning can be done on some species in the spring if they dont bleed, as it can be a way to stimulate back budding.


I remember the look Peter Warren gave Ryan in the JM stream when Ryan mentioned pruning when buds are about to swell. :blush:
I believe Peter said that he prune after/around leaf drop because that leaves the tree alot of time to set up new buds for next year instead of pruning in spring and remove alot of energy that’s already being pushed out to those buds and giving the tree kind of a shock.

If you have a refined tree and prune in spring and then want to pinch that first growth I’m guessing you are really really weakening the tree.

What i like most about Ryan’s teaching is not that he is very talented and competent but because what he says makes sense. But on this occasion I think Peter makes more sense :blush:


Thanks @Alex,
I think you hit the nail on the head

I noticed this and wondered as well since I haven’t hear Ryan agree or comment on the fact that Peter said those things.

I think the fact that he had Peter Warren on to style the JMaple is indication that Ryan endorses what he was saying.

Over the years I have received my guidance from a few here in the UK. Since that guidance has come from Peter my own trees have come on leaps and bounds. His skill/knowledge along with a taste for the unusual (In trees at least!) works perfectly for me.

Can’t argue with that @Blown55,
The proof is most certainly in the pudding!

I have watched him transform the quality of a friend’s collection which had suffered under the hands of another and a few life issues.

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