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How to Prune an Ornamental Crabapple Tree


If you have an extremely tall ornamental crabapple you may want to consider having a professional tree service do the crown thinning for you, due to the height involved.

The tools required are determined by the size of the branch or limb that you need to prune.


Do not place any diseased plant material in your compost bin.

If you have used your pruning tools to prune diseased branches be sure to clean your tools by dipping them in bleach or alcohol.

Never prune branches that are close to electric wires, as this is dangerous and should be left up to the electric company.

The ornamental crabapple tree comes in a variety of sizes and flower colors. Size can range from heights of eight to 40 feet, and blossom colors can be white, pink and deep red. Their blossoms are harbingers of spring, and their fall foliage color is vibrant. Look at your tree from all angles to decide if you need to prune any branches to insure safety along a walkway or to keep the tree from interfering with other plants.

Cut away dead, damaged, broken or diseased branches as soon as possible. Make your cut at the breaking point or depending where the break is you may need to cut off the entire branch. Make a clean cut–no torn or ragged edges. This will allow the tree to heal properly. You can do this when necessary, at any time during the year.

Locate the branch collar (this is on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (on the topside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) of the branch that you are going to prune. Prune right in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar. It is important to maintain the integrity of the branch collar and branch bark ridge for the health of the tree. This pruning procedure should be done before early June. After that the tree is forming its buds for next year.

Visually inspect the crown of the tree. If it appears extremely dense, you will want to thin out some branches to allow the sunlight in, and for additional air circulation. This is called “thinning” and you will have to use your judgment in deciding which branches to remove to open up the crown. This should be done after the spring flowering and before early June.

Prune away suckers, which can appear as shoots or growth from the bottom of the trunk, or growing up from the roots. Cut off any suckers, as they are a drain on the tree’s nutrients. This can be done at any time during the year.

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