Russian Olive in Canada, How to prune without killing it
November 18, 2021 at 12:02 am ReplyjohnstuartPrivate messageGreenhorn
When I prune my Russian Olive I get severe die-back and new growth starts from the ground level, that is, I’m back to having a first-year tree. What am I doing wrong ? I’d like to prune without killing the tree, which has happened to me 3 times over the past 2 decades. I typically prune in late fall or early spring. I’d be grateful for any help with this problem. JMcNovember 18, 2021 at 4:49 am ReplyjesskenPrivate messageGreenhorn
Hi John, I think the problem lies in the scale of your pruning. Pruning it severely every 5-6 years removes most of the active growth (buds and new stems). The tree thinks existing growth is damaged, and for russian olive the response is to send new growth up instead of “healing” the tree. Other species have different reactions, like sprouting new branches near cuts on branches, but not r-o.
So you have to prune in a more gradual way, such that you won’t trigger this behavior. Do you know what you want your tree to look like? If so, or if not, actually, you can sketch it on a notebook for reminders. Then, at least once a year, bring your loppers out and prune one in three of the branches that aren’t to your liking. Not all of them, just one in three. Then, either the next year or the next pruning season, shape another group of branches, again one in three or four, just not the same ones. Etc, etc. Maybe as a reminder you can tie yarn or string on the branches you just cut, or on the ones to cut next time, whatever works best for you, though pruning marks might also guide you there. Also, remember to cut near y-joints, cutting one side of the y off, instead of cutting right in the middle of a branch.
That way, the tree will always be mostly intact, but nonetheless take on the shape you wish it to have. I think the hard pruning somehow stops up sap circulation to the point that roots consider that portion dead, and since they’re vigorous they prefer to start new growth instead.
I hope this advice is useful to you!November 18, 2021 at 7:23 pm ReplyjohnstuartPrivate messageGreenhorn
Thank you. That sounds like good advice; I shall keep it in mind when pruning. JMc
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