When to prune

Asked January 17, 2019, 1:23 PM EST

When is the best time to prune a white pine?

Livingston County Michigan

1 Response


Pines generally need little to no pruning.

On young plants, if a more compact new growth is desired, “pinching” in spring may be helpful. Using the fingers, snap off one-third to one-half of the new growing tips while in the “candle” stage (in the spring when young needles are in a tight cluster). Avoid using pruners or a knife, since it will cut the remaining needles, giving a brown tip appearance.

Since pines produce few side buds, they are intolerant of more extensive pruning. If the terminal bud on a branch is removed, growth on that shoot is stopped with additional growth occurring only from other side branches. Do not shear pines.

Like other evergreen trees, small to mid-size pine trees look best (from the landscape design perspective) with their lowest branches allowed to drape down near ground level. When a lower branch has to be pruned back for space issues, remove it back to the trunk( see reference for how to correctly leave the branch collar).

That said, you can prune pines, like other evergreens, from mid- winter through mid - summer. Remember to use sharp, clean tools and follow correct pruning practices so as not to tear or cut too deeply into a trunk or branch. Do not paint the cuts with anything. Here is a nice reference, should you need it.


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