How to Prune a Fringe Tree


Fringe tree, also called Chionanthus, is a small, ornamental deciduous tree that grows 12 to 20 feet in height and width. These trees bloom in spring and summer with clusters of white flowers marked by their long, thin petals. Fringe tree is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9, which means it grows throughout most of the United States. Knowledge of how and when to prune this tree could be useful if you decide to plant a fringe tree.

Step 1

Choose the correct time to prune the plant. Fringe tree blooms on the previous season's growth, which means if you prune it during the dormant season, you will lose all the buds. Instead, prune right after flowers fade in the summer.

Step 2

Sterilize your pruning shears. Wipe the blades down with rubbing alcohol and a rag. This will decrease the risk of spreading disease from another plant to the fringe tree. Also make sure your shears are sharp so you can make clean cuts.

Step 3

Cut out dead, diseased or broken branches. Make the cut straight through the branch, right outside the root collar. Also cut out crossing branches and branches that seem particularly weak.

Step 4

Train the tree when it's young if you wish. The fringe tree naturally grows multiple trunks but can be pruned to a single trunk. To do this, choose a strong leader trunk and cut all other trunks down to the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rag


  • Aggie Horticulture: Follow Proper Pruning Techniques
  • Clemson Cooperative Extension: Fringetree
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Chionanthus Retusus--Chinese Fringetree
Keywords: choosing pruning time, pruning fringe tree, sterilizing pruning shears

About this Author

Sarah Morse recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature. She has been freelancing for three months and got her start writing for an environmental website.