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How to Prune a Fringe Tree

By Sarah Morse ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rag


  • When older, the tree requires little pruning, if any at all. Continue to cut out damaged or weak branches.

About the Author


Sarah Morse has been a writer since 2009, covering environmental topics, gardening and technology. She holds a bachelor's degree in English language and literature, a master's degree in English and a master's degree in information science.