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I am working on cleaning up my yard, and that means removing some lower branches. I've heard removing at the node is important, so I am doing that. I've seen other trees that have been painted at the removal point. I'm guessing this seals the tree, helping prevent rotting.

Is painting or sealing the removal point necessary? Is it detrimental? Is there a specific product for the job or is paint the right thing?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Depends on the variety of tree. If its a Prunus species, then wound paint may help to prevent silverleaf infection, but otherwise, wound paint is no longer recommended, since research shows that it does not prevent or stop any infection of the wounded area, and in some cases appears to be detrimental to the healing process.

When you prune the tree is much more important, and the method you use - a clean cut, without damaging the 'collar' or main trunk of the tree itself, and cutting just above a node, as you mention, are necessary, but some trees are better cut back when they are dormant, others at other times of year. Knowing the variety is necessary to advise further.

UPDATE: Acer varieties bleed profusely if cut before end of July in the UK because the sap is flowing strongly - you need the sap to be down, not rising, so best time is really late autumn/very early winter to be safe, although given you're in Canada, the sap might be dropping now, not sure. Might be wisest to wait till September.

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Thanks for the tips. I'm working with Maple trees. – dangowans Aug 22 '12 at 13:06

Use clean and maybe disinfected cutting equipment. From my own experience, painting the wound over with either thick lime solution or another fungicide like lime sulfur is better than the black wound paint. As for the point made about sap flow, even this is being revised in horticulture. Counter to current literature to prune apricot when dormant in winter, I've had minimal bleeding pruning in summer after fruiting. I've pruned a couple of years in winter and it bled like a stuck pig.

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You're right, Chris, it's not always predictable whether the tree will bleed or not. 'Winter' isn't really a clear enough term because, in a mild year, the sap may rise as early as January. Early winter is a more definite term, meaning pre Christmas. From experience with my own Acer drummondii, I know I can cut it in late July with no problems, despite official advice; but do it in June, and it bleeds. – Bamboo Aug 23 '12 at 9:32
I'll keep lime in mind. Thanks for the tip. – dangowans Aug 23 '12 at 12:45

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