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How to Prune Saskatoon Serviceberry

Saskatoon serviceberry is a native shrub or small tree found growing along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California. Used to make jellies, jams and pies, you can also use saskatoon serviceberry fruits to make saskatoon wine. Historically, Native Americans ate the berries of the saskatoon serviceberry and added them to dried vegetables and soups. The saskatoon grows up to 21 feet in height and has smooth light brown bark tinged with red. Its leaves are nearly round and 3 centimeters long with lateral veins. The short flowers are white and strap-like with purple-black fruit.

Prune saskatoon serviceberry at the end of fall and after a majority of the leaves and fruit have fallen. This will ensure vigorous and healthy growth the following season.

Prune back the saskatoon serviceberry with pruning shears, which create sharp cuts up to ¾ inches in diameter. Thin back the shrub by cutting off weak branches and stems to their point of origin. Thinning produces a more open shrub and highlights the branch’s internal structure.

Remove all lateral or side branches that cross each other and are twisted. Prune pest-infested or diseased stems by removing the whole branch. This will prevent infecting the shrub.

Prune to one central branch, and remove competing twigs on young saskatoon serviceberry shrubs. This process will free up essential nutrients to the central branch and create a stronger plant. Remove any suckers or small vigorous shoots growing from the root of the shrub as soon as they are visible.

Serviceberry Bush?

Most types of serviceberry bushes are multi-trunked. Serviceberry offers an attractive fall foliage display when its leaves change to orange, yellow or red, and the silvery bark adds to winter interest. The green gives way to red, blue, purple or black as the fruits mature. Serviceberry fruits vary in size between 1/4 and 3/8 inches in diameter depending on the shrub variety. Amelanchier alnifolia "Regent" or regent serviceberry is an early-flowering shrub that grows best in zones 2 through 7. These hardy plants can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, but they thrive in nutrient-rich, well-drained, moist acidic soil, with regular amounts of water. They benefit from an occasional pruning after they have bloomed to remove dead or dying branches. Several diseases such as fire blight and leaf spot occasionally infect serviceberry plantings.

Tip

Between each cut, sterilize the pruning shears with methanol to eliminate the possibility of infecting the plant.

Warning

Always wear protective gardening gloves when using pruning shears.

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