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How to Prune Tamarack

Tamarack is a medium-sized deciduous tree found across North America and into British Columbia. Tamarack trees are harvested for posts, railroad ties and pulp products such as paper. Tamarack has a straight and slender trunk and can reach up to 65 feet in height. Prune your tamarack in the fall after a majority of the leaves and cones have dropped. This will ensure healthy and hardy growth the following growing season.

Thin the tamarack by using lopping shears to cut back weak branches to their point of origin. Thinning results in a more open tree, emphasizes the branch’s internal structure and strengthens the tree.

Remove lateral branches that are gnarled and crossing. Cut off the entire branch if it is infested with pests, diseased or broken.

Prune to one central branch and cut off thin and competing stems on young tamarack trees. This will free up essential nutrients to the central branch of the tree. Cut off all suckers, the small vigorous shoots growing from the root or stem of the tree.

Tamarack Tree?

A coniferous tree but not evergreen, the tamarack (Larix laricina) grows up to 80 feet tall, flourishing in the frigid climates of northern North America in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 to 8. Native Americans historically made use of its roots to bind the bark of birch trees together to create canoes. The trees will also obligingly grow in upland sites featuring loamy soil. Few trees, especially large ones, are established as far north as the tamarack can grow. Its range extends from central and northern Alaska eastward across much of Canada, as far north as the Arctic Circle. The spur branches bear spiral-type clusters of 1-inch needles; needles are spaced every few inches on regular limbs. The majority of viable cultivars are dwarf forms. The tamarack does not withstand exposure to heat, humidity or pollution. Other tamarack insect pests include the tussock moth and the larch looper.

Tip

The tamarack tree is susceptible to sawfly infestation, which can kill the tree. If you suspect your tree is infested, contact your local cooperative extension office for a treatment plan.

Warning

To prevent injury, always wear protective gloves when using lopping shears.

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