Should you prune your ornamental crabapple tree in April?


Last spring we planted an ornamental crabapple and there are a few crossing branches that we would like to prune out. We’ve waited because we were still getting snow but in looking things up online, we are now wondering if we left it too late. is it okay to prune it now or should we wait until next winter/spring? 


Jonathan Foster, Home Horticulture Outreach Professional

Our UMaine Extension Bulletin #2058, Flowering Crabapples in Maine, recommends not pruning the tree in the first year after planting. You are at one year, so if the tree looks healthy and vigorous, pruning is hypothetically an option. If you have any concerns about how well it’s grown or if you had problems with it last year, I would hold off until next winter.

Assuming pruning is on the table, you are right on the cusp of the spring window closing, so I would say that if the crossing branches look to be problematic this season (e.g. rubbing against other branches or likely to grow into another branch) you could take just those out. But I would do it right away and I wouldn’t do any further pruning until dormancy next winter. Also keep an eye on the wounds if you do it now, to make sure they heal up properly. As long as the tree hasn’t flushed leaves yet, you should be fine.

Happy gardening.