Winter Pruning Tips


1. Winter Pruning promotes growth in spring – the remaining branches on your Tree will benefit from fewer branches, using more water, nutrients and space.

2. Without foliage, you can see! So much easier to see clearly at this time of year to make your pruning decisions.

3. Have a clear purpose with each prune but have no fear. Be bold – with each prune you gain experience.

4. Remove undesirable branching. See the form, prune to your desired form. Remove rubbing or crossing branches, leave the strongest branch or the one that bests serves the form you desire.

5. Thin the Tree canopy. Remove suckers, these are generally straight growing with no lateral branches and can be easily seen in the winter. Remove branches that will grow into your canopy, leaving those in place growing the right direction.

6. Always prune to a bud and not in the middle of the branch. Choose a bud to cut. This will keep your form and canopy attractive… and minimize future pruning needs and enhance Tree health.

7. Slow and patient. Pruning is like painting, enjoy the process. Step back, look, see the Tree, see the form. If in doubt, wait until next year. You and your Tree have plenty of time to get to know each other. This will become a normal winter event. Plan to meet each winter!

8. When making cuts, always stay away from the “collar” but never leave an exaggerated stub. This will empower your Tree to heal well in the spring.

9. Winter pruning is great – no bugs! This applies as well for the Tree – no pest pressure on open wounds. Some Trees, like Oaks, prefer a winter prune and it can avoid several problems for the Tree.

10. Rule of thumb – flowering ornamental fruit trees can be pruned – Flowering Cherries, Pears and Plums – welcome pruning and it is so much easier now to do it! *Dogwoods and Magnolias prefer to be pruned right after flowering.

Fun Fact: Japanese Maples – best time to prune is winter for all the reasons above! For these Trees, form is everything – prune when you can see. Enjoy!

Winter pruning is beneficial for so many reasons – just a couple are time and exercise! For your specific questions or needs please reach out to the Tree Guy at grower@bowerandbranch.com


  • Bonnie says:

    Is it a good idea to prune low branches under my weeping willow tree? Also if I can prune do I leave a little nub where it is pruned,

  • Wendi Eaton says:

    Hi Bonnie!

    Absolutely it is okay to prune the lower branches on your Weeping Willow. And yes, you will want to leave a little nub at the prune site.

    The objective is not to prune too far into the branch collar or the Willow will struggle to heal properly. A well placed prune will leave no scar in the future. Branch collars are easy to see on most Trees, this is the area between the stem and the branch. Generally, the bark will be different and actually grow in differing directions. Stay away from this transition area and you will do wonderfully, as will the Weeping Willow Tree itself!

    Should you require further assistance, please contact us again. I can also arrange with you to speak directly with one of our Growers who can provide more detail and guidance for your specific Willow Tree. We can even FaceTime with you and talk you through the pruning process in real time if you’d like!

    Thank you for your question!

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