What Season Is Best To Prune Your Flowering Crabapple Tree In Michigan?

Posted on: 14 October 2021

Limbs can hang low if your crabapple tree is laden with heavy fruit year after year. Often branches will break or become diseased. You can prune those limbs and branches whenever you like. However, if you wait until late winter or early spring before it blooms, your crabapple tree will have all summer to fill in with new growth. This will also help your tree fully flower the following spring.

Pruning before the spring blossoms will allow you to better see the true condition of your tree. You can see how your tree is shaped, what direction the limbs and branches are growing and if there is any disease. Here are a few guidelines to assist you in determining how to best prune your flowering crabapple tree.

Seasonal Pruning Tips

Don't just grab your pruning shears or hand saw out of the garage and begin cutting. Make sure your tool is in good shape and sharp before pruning or you may injure your tree. You want your cuts to be clean. Dull blades can cause branch and limb breakage.

Take a good look at your tree from the crown down to its base. Growth should be uniform. Branches and limbs should not be growing inward toward the trunk of the tree. If you see gnarled or diseased bark, you will want to prune it as early as late winter. Here's what you do:

Remove suckers and water sprouts first. Suckers take nutrients from your tree. You will find them at the base of your tree at ground level. Trim them all the way down to the ground. Water sprouts are weakly connected limbs that grow upward from tree branches. They don't zap nutrients like suckers do. They tend to be an aesthetic issue for those who like to see uniform tree growth.

Next, remove any obviously diseased or broken limbs or branches. A disease prevalent in Michigan is apple scab. Apple scab is a fungus that can decimate your tree's leaves by mid-to-late summer. This can cause flowering crabapple trees to weaken since they are unable to store the energy they need for growth. Fire blight canker is rarer, producing a watery, tan, bacterial substance that can kill branches. Pruning blight helps prevent infection in older tree growth.

Also, look for branches that rub against each other. This can cause abrasions if the offending branch isn't pruned away. Keep the branch that follows the natural growth of the tree.

To learn more about tree pruning, call a tree care company, such as Live On Tree Service.