The Q&A Archives: Japanese Maple/Pruning

Question: Can I prune a Japanese Maple this month--it has too many sprouts (probably due to overpruning) and it is no longer lacy the way I want it. My husband is threatening to thin it out--there seems to be 10-12 sprouts coming from his last pruning making it very dense. I think I need an aborist--not just a so called tree trimmer to salvage this tree or is it too late? The tree is about 7 years old. How do I find an arborist that knows about Japanese Maple?

Answer: From experience I've found that summer pruning results in rampant growth with Japanese maples. This is good if you need to cover up poor pruning cuts, but not so good if the excessive growth obliterates the desired shape and form of your tree. If it were my tree, I'd go ahead and thin it out now, expecting to do some serious pruning in the winter when the tree is dormant and you can see the branching structure clearly. At that time, prune it back to a more manageable size and shape. Then, in the spring, new growth will appear and you can rub out any new buds that threaten to grow into misplaced branches. Best wishes with your Japanese maple!

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