How to Prune My Empress Tree

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Things You'll Need

  • Ladder

  • Goggles

  • Gloves

  • Hand pruner

  • Small pruning saw

  • Lopping shears

  • Chainsaw

The Royal empress tree grows to a height of 50 feet and a width of 30 feet. It has large leaves and flowers and thrives in full or partial sun. The flowering tree is adaptable, growing from Mexico to Canada, and lives a long life. Growers prefer it because it can tolerate drought and doesn't usually have issues with disease or insects. Thinning the branches of empress trees every year will help sunlight reach the inner section of the tree, providing nourishment and preventing disease infestation.


Step 1

Prune empress trees as late in the winter as possible to avoid winter injury. Summer pruning will dramatically cut the energy portion of the tree and result in less growth. But if you must, prune as soon as buds start to appear or, even better, wait until growth is a few inches long.

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Step 2

Use a hand pruner to cut small, thin branches. Lopping shears or small pruning saws can be used for slightly larger branches. If you're dealing with branches that are about 6 inches in thickness, use a pruning saw. Chainsaws will work on those thicker than 8 inches.


Step 3

Identify the node, which is where one twig or branch meets another. Each spring, growth will start with buds and twigs grow until there is a new node.

Step 4

Cut at the nodes in order to thin the crown. This will increase the amount of light and air that gets to the tree. Remove the branches with narrow, V-shaped connections because they are weaker and are likely already cracked. Keep all branches that are attached with strong U-shaped joints.


Step 5

Raise the crown by removing all the branches that are facing downward, at the bottom of the tree. This will give the tree a neater appearance and provide clearance below.


Wear goggles and gloves when pruning trees.

Have someone else spot the ladder when you're climbing it.

Know the different types of cut. A thinning cut is the removal of an entire shoot. Heading cut involves pruning only the terminal portion of a shoot which encourages the lower buds to grow. The most dramatic is the bench cut which removes upright shoots, opening up the center of the tree and spreading the branches outward.


Don't use a chainsaw if you're a novice.

Do not remove more than one-quarter of the crown at a time or you may cause stress and excessive production of new sprouts.


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