Shaping Flowering Crab?
I have a "Thunderchild" flowering crab growing in my front yard. It is aproximatly 9 feet tall and was planted August 2003.
I do not like its shape at all, my particualar tree is looking rather columnar at present, (probably from being planted so close to other trees at the treefarm).
I would like to know how to shape and prune my tree. Does anyone know?
How can I get the branches to grow more outward rather than straight up?
Can I begin pruning and shaping as soon as this spring?
Also, to encourage thickness, how much should I take off when pruning the ends of branches?
What effect will prunning the top of this tree have?
Also, what sort of fertilizer would be recomended for this tree?
Thank you for all your help
Hi there JAR,
Shaping a tree can be a delicate process. One thing on your side is that the tree is young so pruning correctly can help you train the tree into the shape you more desire. I'm not quite sure where you live so can't help you with the pruning timing so much- however, pruning in the spring will cause you to loose flowers.
Flowering crabs aren't really "thick" branching trees- often it will take them many many years to get sizable branches. More importantly than "thickening" the tree is concentrating on not tipping or lopping off the ends of tree branches. This will only lead to unwanted water sprouts and and even weaker branching support system.
Once the tree is established (say two years) it's not necessary to fertilize- mulching a large ring around the tree (keeping it off the tree bark) will help keep the roots cool and to establish.
Plant Amnesty has a ton of free brochures for several areas of the country and also has more information online about pruning. Visit www.plantamnesty.org to see them.
If you would like to see a brochure of why not to top trees visit here:
Great advice from Pruning Gal! I agree with everything she has to say, especially about topping trees. I saw lots of that done in Peru and Ecuador and the trees look absolutely awful, especially in winter when they are bare! YUK Here's some sites to help guide you with pruning.