The Q&A Archives: Pruning A Red Bud Tree

Question: We transplanted a 6' red bud and the top 3' seems to be dead. New growth was at the bottom. How should we prune it to get it to look like a tree rather than a bush?

Answer: Redbuds are very difficult to transplant, especially one that large. Unfortunately, pruning is always difficult to prescribe without seeing the plant. You might wish to look at a basic pruning guide (there is one in the series of Ortho Books for example) before you work on the tree. When a tree loses so much top growth its response can be to send multiple shoots from the base. If this is what happened, you can try selecting one (or several) to be the new tree and remove the rest, but it may continue to sprout more. If the tree is simply branching oddly, you can try to shape it and direct it in a more pleasing pattern. Unfortunately, if your tree was a single trunked specimen and the top three feet out of six died, it may never be trainable to that shape again. You may wish to consult with a professional arborist about the tree or simply replace it. I'm sorry about your tree.

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