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I have a snake bark maple that has a bole diameter of about 8" also an Acer Brilliantissima with a bole diameter of over 12", both of which are growing too large for their site. Is it safe to prune them back? I would need to cut back about three feet or so all round.

Wait until all the leaves have fallen otherwise it might bleed as I suspect this is the same as what I have to do with my Acer Palmatum.

Alina W

It's not a brilliant idea with acer palmatum as the smaller acers don't like hard pruning - it is much better to prune them gently and regularly. If you must prune wait until early spring.


and do think about the overall shape, cutting back 3 feet all round could leave you with a sort of blob and acers have rather a fine shape naturally.

I prune in spring. Lightly removing extension growth and die back and always to a pair of buds. I agree with Alina W ...gently and regularly..but pruning this way makes for a bushier healthier looking bush. Mid spring rather than early spring when frosts are past.



After the first hard frosts is best. The sap will be low then. You can try hardwood cutting with the removed branches.


There was a piece about pruning Acers in a newspaper this weekend and it was stasted that Acers should be pruned very early in the year or they will bleed.

But best not to prune them at all.

I have an Acer platanoides 'Crimson Sentry', which I thought would be ideal for my small modern "development" (postage stamp), garden. I've since discovered that these trees grow quite tall (12m) and wide (5m). Given that my garden is only 10m deep, can I successfully keep it in check by pruning, or should I cut it down now? I planted it two years ago, and it is still only quite small (2m tall x 1m wide).

When I bought it the website said it was iideal for small garden, but on the same website it now says medium garden!
Hiya tim. I can only repeat how I do things. When frosts have gone I cut out die back and pinch back to buds. If you prune now how do you then deal with die back next spring? My only experience with acers is with palmatum varieties and Acer flamingo. However ....without, checking it out, platanoides varieties are much more vigorous. If you don't prune you will end up with large plant. I guess we have all bought plants that want to grow bigger than we want them to but I do manage to control them by yearly pruning in spring and "pinching" 2 or 3 times during the summer

@tim burr - Acer Crimson Sentry is different to Acer palmatum, a Japanese maple. Acer Crimson sentry is a palatnoide, so tall and tree like. You can prune them hard just like a fruit tree to keep them small.

Blairs, I prune my Acer flamingo hard ground level....every year so
can you do same with crimson sentry? I do this too with eucalyptus, cotinus and others

I prune mine like a fruit tree, so cutting back now back to a bud, where it will bush out next year. Feel free to prune back to buds all over the tree to give it the size you want. I am not easy at pruning like so many people are, but it works on this tree and you need it to work for you It will look fine when the leaves are back in spring.

Hi, can anyone help, I have an Acer which has lost its label, it has been growing in shade for a few years now and looks happy. it grows very slowly and has a brilliant red almost cerise colour in autumn.

It has a main stem and is shaped like an umbrella and it's about four foot high and five foot across with its outside leaves almost touching the lawn around it  which is no problem.

However I have noticed each year that three or four branches underneath are bare and look dead, this doesn't detract from the overall shape but I'm wondering?

1. Do I prune these bare branches and if so, when?

2. Will it eventually grow up into an umbrella shaped tree?


Hi it sounds like one of the acer palmatum dissectum atropurpureum family, hopefully there is a link here. But there are lots of varieties of these to choose from one called Crimson Queen which is a popular one.

I have had one of these for years now, originally in big pot and when the frost finally got to that decided to plant it in the ground in the same shady spot which it seems to enjoy. 

You do though every end of season get dead branches which I normally trim off in the winter before the new grow arrives. No one really know why this is and normally say its down to wind damage or just a natural progression. 

Its worth keeping this variety in away from wind and in a sheltered spot, as the fine dissected leaves do tend to get the worst of it in the summer and shrivel up. 

The tree will maintain its umbrella shape throughout its grown and is very slow growing and compact.

I have six Acers in the garden now all of them different and all of them have done exceptionally well even though I am on Chalk soil. Did dig a big hole before I planted them and are looking to reduce the size of a couple this year as they are getting too big. 

hope this helps

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