General gardening topics

Pruning Acers In Pots

Last updated on February 25th, 2022

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How and when to prune Acers in pots

Acer in pots should not really be pruned and are best left to grow into their natural shape, however, there are a few exceptions. Rubbing branches under the main canopy as well as some branches that look out of place and ruin the aesthetics of the tree. Pruning is best done between November and January to avoid sap bleeding.

If you are growing Acers in your home, or you want to but you don’t have a large garden, pots make for an excellent alternative to your flowerbed, with the Acer palmatum varieties being the best choice because they are slow-growing and do well planted in pots.

When you grow Acers in pots you need to make sure the soil is rich in organic matter, well-drained, and on the acidic side because this can help improve the vibrant red colours. Of course, they will do well in most soils as long as there is some good quality compost. They also need to be in a sheltered position, one that is protected against full sun and wind as they can get burnt by cold winds.

Moreover, these plants, like most, need some breathing room for better circulation and growth, so you should space the pots apart from one another so that they don’t have to compete for sun and air circulation. If you are growing in a container, you need to take caution to water regularly and ensure the pot doesn’t dry out.

Acers grow impressively, and when planted in pots, one thing you will need to look out for is outgrowing the pot. Many Acers need to be re-potted in a larger container every 2-3 years.

If you have Acers planted in the ground you can read about pruning these here.

How to Prune Acers in Pots

Once your Acers are in pots, it is time to consider pruning, but only when absolutely necessary. With Japanese Acers, you are better off allowing them to grow into whatever shape is natural, without regular pruning. But that does not mean there will not be the occasion when a branch is dead or when one stem starts rubbing against another. In these situations, it is important to remove the branches. Branches growing at odd angles can be pruned so that they once again cling closely to the main trunk while those that are diseased or dying can be pruned away for good.

When to prune Acers in pots

When you prune, do it between November and January. If you do it any other time of the year, your tree might experience sap bleeding from the places where you made cuts and, not only is this unsightly but it can also damage the Acer.

When you prune, use loppers to ensure you can get the pruned area off in one quick motion, rather than sawing away at it and leaving multiple open wounds.

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