4 Things To Know When Trimming Flowering Trees

Posted on: 11 January 2023

There are many tree varieties that are prized for their beautiful blooms above all else. Proper trimming is the key if you want to be assured that your trees will put on a heavy blossom show each year.  

1. Old Vs. New Wood

When it comes to flowering trees, it's important to understand the differences between old and new wood. New wood grows from the end of a branch, not at the base. When moving down a branch, the oldest wood is near the trunk and the newest wood is at the tip. The new wood is usually somewhat green and pliable and is also where most new budding appears. Last year's wood is found between the old woody growth at the trunk and the tender new growth at the tip. It can also be an area of extensive budding.

2. Pruning Time

Timing for a trim depends on which type of wood a tree flowers on, so this will require research on your specific varieties. Some tree species only flower on new wood, so any buds on last year's wood or the old wood will only be leaf buds. Others flower on last year's wood (sometimes referred to as old wood in pruning guides), and only leaf buds are produced on new wood. Trim new wood flowering trees in late winter or very early spring. Those that flower on last year's wood are pruned in spring or early summer, right after the tree stops flowering. 

3. Types of Buds

Buds form on two main locations of a branch. Terminal buds are at the branch tip, while axillary buds are on the sides. If you remove the terminal bud, then a branch cannot grow longer but it can force the production of more axillary buds. This means trimming back the tip of a branch often leads to more axillary buds and thus heavier flowering.  

4. Making the Cut

It's not just where you cut, it's also how you cut when pruning a flowering tree. The best place to make the cut is directly in front of a bud, which means in between the bud and the branch tip. Make the cut as closely as possible without cutting into the bud node, as leaving a long tip results in ugly, bare wood. Cuts should be angled and not blunt because this helps camouflage the cut and encourages quick healing by the tree. 

Contact a tree trimming service if you have flowering trees in need of pruning.