The Q&A Archives: Coral Tree Pruning

Question: I have 3 coral trees in my back yard. They go dormant in the winter and I would like to prune and shape them. I want them to be umbrella shaped to screen out my neighbors homes. Can you provide with information on the best way amd time to prune thus directing their shape and growth? They are approx. 20' tall now and about 14 years old. They also are infested with ants. Is there any hope for my trees?

Answer: There are many kinds of Coral trees (Erythrina), some growing only 6' high and others 50'-60' at maturity. Most are wider than they are tall and some have bizzare, rather than symmetrical, branch patterns. You can probably prune yours into a gumdrop shape, but you'll never get the branches to droop down into an umbrella shape. Prune right after flowering. To preserve the health of your trees, don't remove more than 1/3 of the live tissue in any one year. If you need to reduce the height and width of your trees more than that, plan on making the renovation over a 2-3 year period. Coral trees can put on lots of rank growth. Once you've pruned yours into shape, trim it annually to keep it looking neat. The trees will grow less vigorously and flower more profusely if you withhold water during the summer months.

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