Winged elm pruning

I recently acquired a nice winged elm. I’ve never worked with this species before so I assumed it would behave similar to a Chinese elm. But so far it doesn’t respond to pruning the same way. I never get multiple shoots at each cut sight like I do with a Chinese elm. I get one strong shoot.

I tried pinching but that doesn’t illicit any other shoots at that sight. Also the internode lengths are quite long despite pulling back fertilizer significantly.

Anyone have any insights or experiences with refinement techniques on this species?

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Hi Trent - have wings already developed on the branches you’re pruning?
My experience with winged elm is in the form of seeing how the deer prune them around the yard at my parents place (they live “in the woods”). If chewed back to woody, winged growth (rare, but sometimes they’re real hungry) then the trees seem to respond by dropping the branch altogether in favor of other vigorous areas. If pruned to green shoots they generally throw one strong bud, sometimes 2, but I haven’t seen more than that. I have often thought about trying to collect some of them (there are really great, gnarly chewed up old trees in the woods) but have never tried. I think nature and the deer do a better job.

Now - my statements above only seem to apply to older trees that have been allowed to grow in more natural circumstances. On small winged elms, 1-5 years old, they can grow very similarly to other elms, forming well ramified small trees (1/4-1/2" size trunks). I have not had a chance to see these trees grow up and compare them to their older counterparts though. In all, I would not compare them to Chinese elms. I would compare them to Siberian elms. They grow quickly, prefer strong single buds, and aren’t afraid to randomly drop branches in favor of stronger areas.

In regards to the internode length, some species simply do not respond well to techniques meant to shorten them. This may be one of them.

Can you provide a photo or more details of the tree? Estimated age, previous care, etc?

Try partial defoliation along with the pruning?

Sorry, it was a crazy week, so i wasnt able to respond earlier. I had a chance to speak with the previous owner of the winged elm. He had it for over 25 yrs. He said that in his experience with the tree that only in the first flush each spring did it send multiple shoots per branch. But beyond that after each pruning it would only ever send one shoot per location. Seems to be a nuance of the species, if not of this particular tree. I am going to give it another prune so i’ll take some before and after pics to track whether this nuance occurs again this go-around.

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My Siberian elms are similar, though vigorous enough that occasionally I get a bifurcation.

FWIW I have a winged elm that’s an older collected tree, collected around 15 years ago. When I cut back new shoots to two or three leaves I usually get two new shoots. When you are cutting the new shoots back bear in mind that the very first small leaf on the shoot may not have a dormant bud at it’s base. It’s best to cut back to three leaves and you should get a new shoot from the two outer leaves.

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Great suggestion here!