I planted a small (clump)"Autumn Brilliance" serviceberry last...

Asked July 9, 2015, 4:52 PM EDT

I planted a small (clump)"Autumn Brilliance" serviceberry last spring. (2014) I would like to prune it so that it will develop into a clumpy (3-4 stems) tree. Does it matter when I snip off the pieces of the bush I do not want? My thoughts that maybe I should leave all the leaves and stems on until it gets larger and then do the pruning. Right now it is about 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

Ramsey County Minnesota

4 Responses

You may want to start your pruning early next spring, hopefully before it leafs out or shortly thereafter. There is no advantage waiting and then cutting off large stems. However, you may find that pruning will encourage more suckers.

Thank you! I will sharpen my pruning shears for next spring.

On another note...I also planted a small (less than 1/2 inch diameter for each trunk) clumpy river birch last spring (2014) that was very, very late to leaf out this year. When it did, it was actually mostly new suckers--the branches themselves only got a few leaves starting about midway up each trunk. The highest part of the thin trunks do not have any leaves, yet they do not appear to be dead. I left all the suckers thinking maybe at this point they would help to make the tree stronger. Eventually, I plan to prune them out--or should I do it right away. Do you think the slender trunks may eventually get leaves next year? The tree faces east and gets mid to late afternoon shade. The soil has lots of clay but I did try to amend it a bit. I think the area is full of old maple tree roots. (I know it is---I planted the tree near where I took down a rotting maple)

It sounds as though this tiny birch is struggling. I really don't know what you advise you. You should not cut off all the suckers as they may end up being your new trees. It sounds as though there was a lot of winter kill and the original stems may not survive the second winter. You could remove some of the smaller suckers but leave some just in case.

Thank you. I'll give the tree another year and see what happens. Oh--by the way---I forgot to mention I bought the little birch tree at K-mart. Live and learn.