Thread: Clump River Birch pruning - confusion

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  1. #1
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Western NY, Zone 6
    Posts
    348

    Clump River Birch pruning - confusion

    So I've read a lot of conflicting information on when to prune a River Birch. I have a 3-trunk Clump River birch that has added another 3 trunks (small sucker saplings about 8" tall) that are starting to sprout up from the root system. I planted the River Birch in the late Spring and it has sprouted a lot of new foliage and seems to be thriving. However, some branches are growing all over the place and I am fairly sure I will have to prune off those 3 new River Birch saplings that are growing from the root system. The 3 main trunks for this River Birch are about 6-ft tall, so it's probably a few years old.

    The question is, when should I prune this thing? From what I've read, Winter is usually the best time to prune trees, when they are dormant. However, I've read in a number of places that Birches will "bleed out" during dormancy, so Winter pruning can have a negative impact on Spring growth. Some articles appear to recommend a late Spring pruning for Birches, after the leaves have fully blossomed. Problem is, that will make it rather difficult for me to prune some of those branches growing at odd angles, because I won't be able to see what I'm doing in that thick foliage.

    Just wondering if any experts in here can clear this up for me. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lincoln, Nebraska - Lancaster County (Zone 5)
    Posts
    256

    RE: Clump River Birch pruning - confusion

    I would recommend pruning your birch trees from September until midwinter.

    Some deciduous trees will produce an excessive amount of sap when they are pruned in late winter or early spring. Pruning cuts made at this time will flow with sap. Honestly, this doesn't hurt the trees, but the result is rather unsightly.
    Sincerely, Robert
    Lincoln, NE (Zone 5)

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
    - Martin Luther (1483-1546)

  3. #3
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Western NY, Zone 6
    Posts
    348

    RE: Clump River Birch pruning - confusion

    Thanks for the tip, Robert. One more follow-up question - the river birch has 4 new "trunks" growing from the clump of 3 larger trunks, which are about 6-7' tall. These new shoots started growing soon after I planted the River Birch in its permanent location in my backyard.

    The smaller, new trunks are about 12" tall now, and they seem to be growing and leafing out rapidly. Should these be pruned immediately from this tree, or is it best to leave them growing until the Birch is more established? Is "3" the recommended number of trunks for a clump river birch?

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