When and How to Prune Christmas Trees

When and How to Prune Christmas Trees

Sep 21st 2023

Growing your own Christmas tree is a lot of fun, and as the festive season is swiftly approaching, we should start preparing our evergreens for the holiday celebration. Christmas trees require timely pruning to achieve a symmetrical and conical shape. If done correctly, pruning and shearing can improve the appearance and health of your tree and make them worthy of displaying in your home.

Proper and timely pruning and shearing of branches stimulates the development of new buds, provides additional growth to other branches, and control leaves and tree shape so that a denser and more evergreen tree grows. In this blog, our gardening experts share their best tips on when and how to prune your Christmas trees.

When to Prune Christmas Trees

Evergreen trees stay lush all year round but still undergo seasonal changes when the plants shed and renew their foliage. The fir and spruce trees can be pruned at any time of the year. However, the best time to prune Christmas trees is early spring, late summer, or autumn. If you want to stimulate the development of new buds, we recommend pruning in late June or July.

According to a University of New Hampshire study, prune the pine trees only when the new needle grows around two-thirds the size of the previous needle length. This usually happens between mid-June to mid-July and provides good results.

Remember, parasites are most likely to attack evergreen trees in warmer months. So, you must prune your tree's branches correctly. In addition, don't prune trees during winter when the tree is dormant or preparing for dormancy. Pruning during extremely cold weather will leave open wounds that could be damaged by frost or cause infections. The shaping of Christmas trees usually starts during the third year. As a rule, the perfect time to prune, shear, or trim is when shoots stop elongating and before the hardening of the tree's branches.

If you don't know how to prune your Christmas tree, don't worry. In the following section, we will describe the detailed method of pruning your Christmas trees and cutting their branches in the safest way possible.

How to Prune Your Christmas Trees

First and foremost, never cut the tree too extensively, as it can leave open wounds which will lead to bacterial infections. Always use a quality pruning tool such as Pro Pruning Shears or Felco Pruners to trim or prune your tree without damaging its branches. Wear gardening gloves for comfort and to avoid any damage to your hands.

To prune your tree and maintain its even shape, cut back any poorly positioned or protruding branches. For a classic symmetrical look, the width of your tree's base should be two-thirds as wide as its height. A six-foot-tall tree should ideally have a four-foot-wide base.

If there's any dead, dried up, or damaged shoot, remove it too. There's no need for them to consume the tree's energy. Also, you would want to avoid exposing the rest of the tree to disease. If your Christmas tree has developed excessive leaders, pick the weakest ones, and prune them back to correct the deformity of the tree.

Trimming and pruning can correct the deformities of trees, along with improving the quality of the trees. If the Christmas tree is unbalanced, it can be brought back to an even shape by pruning the longest lateral branches on the heavier side of the tree.

In addition, if you're growing your Christmas tree in a container, keep it always full of water. When it becomes too large for a pot, plant it in the garden. The Christmas trees aren't well-suited for pots as they mature.

Pruning Terminal Leader

In pruning the terminal leader, trim the leader to the desired length, usually 8 to 12 inches. Make a cut at a 45-degree angle and about an inch above the healthy bud. Keep this bud and remove all the buds down to 3 inches from the top whorls (rings of branches). This will reduce the formation of various tops. Additionally, fold the top whorls of branches alongside the leader to calculate how much to prune.

Next, cut back the lateral branches of the top whorl until they're two-thirds the full length of the pruned leader. This will stop a lateral branch from emerging as a leader and prevent the formation of a crooked top.

Basal Pruning of Christmas Trees

Basal Pruning includes cutting all branches from the ground to a whorl of branches. This helps control excessive leader growth and establish a good base to develop a clear handle and a balanced tree. Also, basal pruning encourages the tree to replace lost foliage and boost the density of the remaining branches. Basal pruning typically removes one-half of live branches without killing the tree.

Shearing of Lateral Branch

If your tree isn't sufficiently full, shearing of lateral branches might increase its density. Shearing helps make trees denser and keeps them in proper shape till harvest. It usually begins when the tree is 4-5 feet tall. However, sometimes, shearing may be crucial at a younger age of the plant to control defects. Shearing begins on spruce and fir trees when they're 4-5 feet high and on pine trees at 3 feet.

The Bottom Line

Proper pruning of a Christmas tree at the correct time is crucial for an improved appearance, proper shape, and good health. The best time to prune your trees is late summer and early spring. Avoid pruning or shearing your evergreen tree in winter, as chilly weather can damage the plant. We hope this guide helps you get an idea of when and how to prune your Christmas tree in a correct way. Prune your Christmas trees with pruners to enhance their appearance and make them ready for winter evenings and the festive season.

Read this helpful blog about How and When to Prune your Fruit Trees! For more gardening advice, please visit our blog.

Also, we have a vast range of quality pruning shears, ergonomic pruners, Christmas lighting, gardening gloves, and a variety of other gardening tools.