moondancer
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Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 2:43 am

Hi All, I'm new - Smoke Tree question

First, want to say hello - have been reading and enjoying these forums for a while, lots of helpful information!

I need to prune an old smoke tree, probably around 60 years old. It's getting too much top growth and sparse inside, though still blooms nicely. Hoping to do this within the next week or so. Any tips?

grandpasrose
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Location: Quesnel, BC, Canada - Zone 4a

Welcome Moondancer!
I would love to see a 60 year old smoke tree! I bet it is gorgeous!
Smoke tree blooms on it's new wood, which is why, since it blooms in the spring to early summer, it should be pruned right after it has bloomed. This way you get the whole rest of the season for new growth for it to bloom on next spring.
If this doesn't matter to you (whether you get alot of blooms or not) then go ahead and prune.

One of the most important parts of pruning is to keep injured, diseased, or dead wood out of the tree.
Remove all crowded stems and weak growth, and any branches that actually cross each other.
Always cut stem stubs close to a main stem to permit healing. There should not be a stub left long enough to hang your hat on, or you are inviting disease.
Nip tips of new growth to increase bushiness.
Removal of sucker growth on trees is essential to prevent diversion of growth in the wrong area.

Natural pruning gives plants an opportunity to grow in their own form. Hedge-sheared plants are robbed of their individuality, flowers and natural beauty.

Better plant shape and regrowth is developed when plants are pruned gradually over a period of time in contrast to once a year heavy pruning.

It is never too late to correct past pruning errors. Plants have great ability to recover from poor pruning practices and again perform normally.

Hope all of this helps and good luck! :wink:
VAL
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

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Grey
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Location: Summerville, GA, Zone 7a

I had never heard of this tree so I looked it up. It's beautiful! I'm sure one 60 years old is a sight to behold, especially in bloom. :D

moondancer
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Hi grandpasrose and Grey, yes it is indeed a lovely old tree. It was neglected for quite a few years, don't think that really hurt it, they seem to require very little. I did prune it, more to clean it up, about 3-4 years ago in late fall, which would explain why it didn't bloom the following summer. I think that scared me, so all I've done since is take out dead wood and trim off suckers. The flowers faded about three weeks ago, we were in a horrendous heat wave, so I didn't prune it then. Now there is new growth so, based on what grandpasrose says, I'm wondering if it might be better to wait till next year to give it the good shaping it needs. Would hate to lose the flowers again, it is a gorgeous sight. Any thoughts?

Thanks for the replies...

grandpasrose
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Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 4:21 pm
Location: Quesnel, BC, Canada - Zone 4a

Yep, if you want the blooms next year, then I would wait on any major pruning. You could do a little clip here and there without too much effect if something is really unwieldy - if you were going to take it off anyway, it wouldn't be there to bloom at all!
Certainly taking out dead wood and suckers at this point would not hurt it either.
Smoke Tree actually will take alot of neglect and is very forgiving, just ask mine! :lol: Seriously though, they don't seem to mind poor soil, survive drought well, and as you have seen, keep blooming without much care.
Don't be afraid to prune though - remember the last line of my last post - it is never too late to correct past pruning errors, and plants have an amazing ability to recover our poor attempts! :wink:
VAL
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

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