Pruning acers in the dormant season

Most gardens have space for an acer of two. These beautiful maple trees come in a huge number of varieties and offer interest in many ways, whether that’s attractive bark, delicate leaves or fantastic deep red autumn colour.

Autumn is the time to prune acers because they tend to bleed heavily when they are in active growth. Any time in the dormant season – between now (end September/beginning of October) and February is ideal.

Specimen trees such as A. davidii, A. negundo, A saccharinum, A. campestre, A. griseum and A. platanoides should develop a central leader with a well-balanced head of branches.

Prune from underneath the canopy, rather than from above it.  To do this, simply get underneath the main umbrella canopy and remove badly positioned, crossing or rubbing shoots and branches.  Cut out any new or twiggy growth from the clear trunk under the canopy to show off the bark to best effect. Remove any dead growth, too.

Acers grown as multi-stemmed trees on a short trunk, such as A. palmatum, should require very little pruning other than to remove frost-damaged and weak shoots, as well as any badly positioned, crossing or rubbing stems.

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