Japanese Maple Pruning

Asked August 11, 2019, 4:31 PM EDT

Could you guide me to a good video or two, or a text source, showing best practices for pruning Japanese maples? Thanks.

Clackamas County Oregon

1 Response

Pruning Japanese maples can be daunting, but just take your time and it can be a very rewarding experience. This article is a good overview of pruning Japanese maples, Pruning Japanese Maples https://ucanr.edu/datastoreFiles/268-561.pdf. This video, Pruning Your Japanese Maple https://www.mendocinomaples.com/Pruning.mp4 gives a clear picture of the steps in pruning a Japanese Maple. Finally, the Portland Nursery has a class on Japanese maple pruning September 22 11am. (Current Gardening Classes Portland Nursery https://portlandnursery.com/events/current-classes/). These classes are very good and popular, so if you are interested, please sign up soon. There will also be workshops on pruning Japanese maples, often in late winter or early spring. Check places like the Japanese Garden, Japanese Garden Workshops https://japanesegarden.org/thecenter/garden-workshops/.

Take your time and make careful cuts with sharp pruning equipment. Make a cut, then step back and evaluate, then plan your next cut. You can come back in an hour or in a week. You can prune any time of the year, but it's easier to see the tree's structure without the leaves obscuring the view. If you prune after the sap has started to move up into the tree you will get sap dripping from your pruning cuts. This doesn't seem to harm the tree, but is unsightly.

A couple pruning principles to keep in mind are: 1. Don't take off more than 30% of the leafy branches in any year or the tree will respond with rampant growth. 2. Branches have a raised area around the connection to the trunk or larger branch called a "collar". The cells in this area will overgrow and seal off the pruning cut, so make your pruning cut just outside it.