Drake Elm tree pruning

bunswickyMay 24, 2007

Hello, new here.

We have a Drake Elm that is about 3 years old. It needs "something". I think, a pruning. The branches are leggy and droopy, but not droopy like its supposed to be. It has branches that stick out in every direction and of all different lengths. I haven't pruned it up to now, thinking that it would "weep" as the branches became heavier. But it really looks weird. Does anyone know how I should prune it? I do not know where to make the cuts and I am not sure what it is "supposed" to look like. I did check various websites and local agricultural sites but have found nothing that speaks to the pruning aspect.

Thank you

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quirkyquercus

You could try posting a picture and someone here will offer some insight. I know that Chinese elms often look a bit on the awkward in their youth.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 9:11AM
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spruceman

If the tree is only three years old, I would wait. The tree, given a little time, may develop more of its own potential. If you decide to prune too soon, you may not only slow the growth of the tree, but miss some possibilities that may become more apparent later. It is easy to look at a small tree and think that as it grows larger it will reflect the same characteristics, but often on its own a tree transforms itself. For example, a crook in a trunk becomes completely overgrown so it is no longer a problem, or a small fork at the top disappears as one side rapidly outgrows the other and that bends down to become a side branch. And as this side branch grows and the trunk thinkens, even the narrow branch angle at the trunk is altered.

Have a little patience and think about shaping up this tree a little in two or three years, unless some really obvious problem seems to be developing.

--Spruce

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 10:19AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

bunswicky, a picture is worth a thousand words! ;-) I very strongly believe in early training for shapely and long lived trees, but it's difficult to explain what might need to be done to your tree (if anything at all) without seeing it.

At the very least, you could remove crossing, rubbing, stubbed, inward growing branches. That kind of detail pruning, alone, can improve a tree's appearance, as well as open up the interior of the plant to improved sunlight and air circulation. Those last two events can improve the stockiness of the remaining limbs.

A little bit of pruning, done once or twice a year, can stimulate some nice growth in young trees. 'Little' is the operative word. Too much pruning can trigger responses that take away from the effect you are trying for.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 12:29PM
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heidiho(St. Martinville, La. Zn.8)

Bought 2 drake elms today and was looking up info on them and ran across your letter. Were you able to post the picture? Would like to see it. Mine are about 5' tall and the guy at the nursery said they are fast growers.Sure hope so, 'cause I'm in my 60's and don't have that long left to wait for a slow growing tree. lol!
Did yours grow a lot in the years you've had it and have you pruned your tree? I, too was wondering about pruning in a couple of years.
Thanks for your time and have a nice evening.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 10:44PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Googled a similar question and this was the second thing that popped up on the list.

My Drake was planted 12/07. It was about 6-7' tall at the time. Now it's easily doubled in size. We did a little bit of pruning in January while it was still dormant. Now that it's leafed out the weeping has become extremely pronounced. Just last week I noticed the weeping is now very lopsided. (Thanks to the wind?)

Having no luck finding info online for correct pruning. I almost wish I had never planted the tree!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 1:33PM
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amandawestbury_att_net

I have several of these. They seed quite freely in my grandmothers yard so we transplant them to ours. We prune ours around 1-2 ft high. As soon as we start pruning, the awkward look goes away and the natural droop will come. We just visualize the look of the grown thing and trim what doesn't look right. This is usually all tiny kickers on side of trunk, leaving only two main branches to start. We also prune these two branches of all down kickers or branches growing straight up. We have our largest is not but two and has grown from 2 ft to 9 already. It is quite thick and stout and very droopy and beautiful.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 3:25PM
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tjhmarks_aol_com

Drake Elms require VERY little pruning. Young trees should not be pruned other than to establish a strong main trunk. We have two that we planted 7 years ago. This year we pruned them really for the first time; removed low limbs. These trees have a very beautiful natural umbrella shaped canopy and you need only to remove limbs that are too low or trim those that may be too long. Our Drake Elms have probably doubled their size each year we have had them. They are beautiful; we love them and so do our many resident birds.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 1:23AM
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