Tree Pruning – Should I Apply Wound Dressing?

Tree Pruning – Should I Apply Wound Dressing?

Wound Dressing After Tree Pruning – Why Arborists No Longer Do This

As a homeowner, it’s essential to keep your trees in good condition by pruning them when necessary. However, with all the information available online, it’s easy to get confused about what practices are best for the health of your trees. One of the practices that have been debated for years is wound dressing after tree pruning. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why arborists no longer use wound dressing and what practices you should follow instead.

What is Wound Dressing, and Why Was It Used?

When a tree’s branch or limb is pruned, it leaves a wound on the tree. In the past, arborists used to apply wound dressing on the wound to protect it from diseases and pests. The dressing would usually be a tar-like substance or a paint-like substance. The idea behind wound dressing was that it would seal the wound, preventing bacteria, fungi, and insects from entering the tree.

Why Is Wound Dressing No Longer Recommended?

Research conducted in recent years has shown that wound dressing is unnecessary and may even harm the tree. When a tree is wounded, it begins to produce chemicals that seal off the wound and protect it from diseases and pests. The natural process of compartmentalization ensures that the tree is protected, and there’s no need for wound dressing. In fact, applying wound dressing can do more harm than good. When the dressing is applied, it can trap moisture and provide a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria, leading to the development of rot in the tree. Moreover, the dressing can interfere with the tree’s natural ability to compartmentalize the wound, leading to further damage to the tree.

What Practices Should You Follow Instead of Wound Dressing?

After pruning your trees, it’s essential to leave the wound to heal naturally. However, there are some practices that you can follow to ensure that your tree heals correctly.

Choosing the Right Pruning Tools

The first step to ensuring proper pruning is choosing the right tools. Using dull or incorrect tools can lead to rough cuts that take longer to heal, leaving the tree vulnerable to diseases and pests. When purchasing pruning tools, look for high-quality tools with sharp blades. Make sure to clean and sterilize your tools before and after use to prevent the spread of diseases.

Pruning at the Right Time

The timing of pruning is crucial to the health of your trees. Pruning during the dormant season is the best time to prune most trees as they have less sap flow, reducing the chances of the tree being exposed to diseases and pests. However, there are some exceptions. For example, spring-flowering trees should be pruned immediately after flowering to ensure that they bloom next year.

Understanding the Tree’s Anatomy

To prune a tree correctly, it’s essential to understand its anatomy. Trees have specific growth patterns, and pruning at the wrong angle or location can lead to further damage. When pruning, make sure to cut the branch just outside the branch collar. The branch collar is the raised area where the branch meets the trunk. Cutting outside the branch collar ensures that the wound is exposed to the smallest possible area, reducing the risk of disease and pests.

Pruning Different Types of Trees

Different trees require different pruning techniques.

Here are some examples:

  • Apple Trees: Apple trees require annual pruning to encourage fruit production. The best time to prune is during the dormant season, and you should aim to remove around 20% of the tree’s canopy. Focus on removing any branches that are crossing or rubbing, and any dead or diseased wood.
  • Citrus Trees: Citrus trees require minimal pruning, mainly to remove any dead or diseased wood.
  • Peach Trees: Peach trees require pruning to improve air circulation and remove any dead or diseased wood. The best time to prune is during the dormant season, just before the buds start to swell. Peach trees should be pruned to a vase shape, which means removing the central leader and creating an open center. This helps to increase sunlight penetration and improve fruit quality.
  • Plum Trees: Plum trees require pruning to maintain a healthy structure and promote fruit production. The best time to prune is during the dormant season, and you should aim to remove around 20% of the tree’s canopy. Focus on removing any dead, damaged or diseased wood, and any crossing or rubbing branches.
  • Cherry Trees: Cherry trees require pruning to improve air circulation, remove any dead or diseased wood, and encourage fruit production. The best time to prune is during the dormant season, and you should aim to remove around 20% of the tree’s canopy. Focus on removing any branches that are crossing or rubbing, and any water sprouts or suckers.

In conclusion, wound dressing after tree pruning is no longer recommended by arborists. It’s important to leave the wound to heal naturally, as the tree’s natural process of compartmentalization will protect it from diseases and pests. However, it’s essential to follow proper pruning practices to ensure that your tree heals correctly and remains healthy. This includes choosing the right pruning tools, pruning at the right time, understanding the tree’s anatomy, and using different pruning techniques for different types of trees.

Interesting Facts about Fruit Trees:
  1. Some fruit trees can live for over 100 years if properly cared for.
  2. The world’s oldest fruit tree is a fig tree in Albania that is over 2,000 years old.
  3. In the United States, apple is the most widely planted tree fruit, followed by peach and pear.
  4. Citrus trees are not true trees but are actually large shrubs or bushes.
  5. Some fruit trees, like apricot and cherry, have been cultivated for thousands of years.
Links for Further Reading:
  1. “Pruning Fruit Trees” by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: https://ucanr.edu/sites/fruitreport/files/255644.pdf
  2. “How to Prune Fruit Trees” by The Old Farmer’s Almanac: https://www.almanac.com/fruit-trees-pruning-made-easy
  3. “The Do’s and Don’ts of Pruning Fruit Trees” by Better Homes and Gardens: https://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/tree-shrub-care/pruning-fruit-trees/
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