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How to Prune a Laceleaf Japanese Maple

2013-05-25   Views:16

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Laceleaf Japanese maples add beauty and grace to the landscape in all seasons. Pruning them can seem complicated due to their extreme variability in form and foliage. Two main types of laceleaf maples are available: upright and weeping. Different tec

How to Prune a Laceleaf Japanese Maple

Laceleaf Japanese maples add beauty and grace to the landscape in all seasons. Pruning them can seem complicated due to their extreme variability in form and foliage. Two main types of laceleaf maples are available: upright and weeping. Different techniques are used for each one, but the basics remain the same. Pruning and maintaining a laceleaf maple is not difficult. Most Japanese maple species only require occasional maintenance to remove damaged limbs or to shape the tree. Pruning is best done in the spring and lightly through the summer for those varieties with dense foliage.

Skill level:Moderate

Things you need

PrunersGlovesAlcohol

Instructions

1 Identify the type of Japanese maple by its growth habit, either upright or weeping. Weeping Japanese maples are the most common, but upright varieties with laceleaf foliage exist as well. An upright type will resemble a tree in shape, while a weeping Japanese maple has limbs that fall in a cascade.

2 To prune an upright tree, examine the shape closely. Identify any weak, crossing or damaged limbs. These will be removed first. Disinfect pruners with alcohol before making the first cut. Remove each limb to another branch junction or the main trunk. Don't leave a stub, as it will collect moisture and rot. After removing the problem limbs, check the tree's overall appearance and balance. Thin out tightly clustered branches to promote air circulation. Prune off any limbs that appear awkward or unattractive. Round off the tree's canopy lightly. Take no more than a third of the tree's overall growth each year. Over-pruning will produce a flush of unsightly and weak new growth.

3 Pruning a weeping Japanese maple is initially the same as an upright type. Disinfect the pruners with alcohol, then remove any weak, dead, crossing or damaged branches. Check for any limbs that appear to be reverting to an upright growth habit, and remove them. Prune off any suckers growing at the base of the tree. Weeping maples are often grafted onto a rootstock from an upright tree, which can sucker profusely. Root suckers may require removal more than once in a growing season. Weeping Japanese maples often have a decoratively twisted trunk that's hidden by the dense foliage. Thinning out the canopy allows the growth habit to be viewed. Prune to a bud junction or a main limb, again never leaving a stub. Make all pruning cuts flush.

4 Remove all pruned material and burn or compost it. Clean up all plant debris thoroughly to prevent disease.

Tips and warnings

Make sure the pruners are quite sharp. Dull pruners can cause scars and damage the tree, leaving entry wounds for disease.

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