Wait – Before You Use Pruning Sealer on Trees…

Wait – Before You Use Pruning Sealer on Trees…

Pruning – tree trimming – call it what you will. No matter its name, we love talking about how and why to prune trees at Davey!

The benefits of pruning trees seem endless. Pruning creates stronger, healthier trees, which reduces the risk of trees damaging your property. So, you’ll have less damage and cleanup after storms.

Plus, pruning makes your tree look better – and results in a larger harvest from fruit trees! Now that’s a delicious reason to prune your trees.

Once your tree is pruned, though, should you use pruning sealer on cuts close to the trunk?

Our reader Terri F., recently asked this question after “trimming some lower branches off a sycamore tree.”

Before we delve into whether you should use a pruning sealer on your trees, let’s cover the basics.

What Is a Pruning Sealer?

Pruning sealers, also called pruning paint, are products that claim to “aid the healing of pruning cuts” or “minimize sap loss.”

Most often, these products are petroleum-based, but some even contain asphalt.  Alternatively, there are natural tree sealers with ingredients like collagen and aloe gel.

Should I Use Pruning Sealer on Trees? If So, When Do I Use Tree Sealer?

No – you should not use pruning sealers after pruning your trees or shrubs.

In fact, research from the University of Arizona, found pruning sealers actually obstruct trees’ natural healing power. Yes, you read that correctly! Tree pruning sealers are bad for your trees because it makes harder for your tree to heal.

Plus, pruning sealers may trap moisture in the tree, which can encourage wood decay or fungi.

While we need Band-Aids to reduce blood loss and help our wounds heal, trees simply recover differently than us.

How Trees Recover After Pruning

After pruning, trees grow new wood, which covers the pruning wound, and prevents the invasion of diseases or bugs. 

Trees know how to recover from pruning wounds all on their own.

There you have it! Thanks again to Terri F. for submitting this question.

Comment below with your own tree question. We’ll have an answer for you in a flash!

  • The Tree Doctor June 14, 2017 >Hi Stuart. Great question! We understand why you would be confused. Pruning paint can be used to make fresh cuts unattractive to beetles during the spring or summer months. We'd recommend, though, still completing all pruning during the dormant season for best results. Here if you have any other questions, Stuart.
  • Stuart Johnson June 9, 2017 >Now I'm confused, what about to prevent the spread of Oak Wilt? http://texasoakwilt.org/oakwilt/oak-wilt-management/
  • The Tree Doctor June 8, 2017 >Hi Jennifer. Great question. It's still better not to use a sealer, so the wound wood dries quickly and resists infection. Continue to cut back the large shoots. Then, you can try applying an over-the-counter product, such as "Sucker Stopper," to see if that helps reduce the growth of sprouts. But, as you already know, willows excel at sprouting, and it's difficult to control. Wishing you and your trees well, Jennifer.
  • Jennifer Fawcett June 3, 2017 >I am still trimming shoots that come up from the base of a dwarf dappled willow planted 4-5 years ago (apparently too shallow). Can I use sealer on those cuts? There are quite a few now 😕
  • The Tree Doctor May 26, 2017 >Hi Jane! Good eye. As you guessed, that little pond of water shouldn't be sitting in the tree opening. We'd recommend getting as much of the water out as you can. Then, ideally, you'd have a certified arborist inspect the tree in person and see what else could be done to help it. Perhaps a bit more pruning? If you'd like to contact your local Davey arborist for a free consultation, call us at 831-291-5341 or fill out this online form: davey.com/local-offices/santa-cruz-tree-service/#main-form. Let us know if there's anything else we can do to help, Jane.
  • Jane Bolling May 8, 2017 >I have an apple tree with a hole going into the tree where a limb was cut off. Water gets in and sits there like a little pond. Do you think I should seal it with gravel and a tree wound product or leave it? Thanks in advance for your advice.
  • The Tree Doctor April 17, 2017 >Hi Daniel! If the pruning is done correctly, it should heal and not rot. We don't recommend using pruning paint because it actually seals in disease-causing pathogens, making it easier for trees to get infected. Hope this helps, Daniel.
  • Daniel Parker April 14, 2017 > I just cut back my oak tree, ( approx. 300 years old ). The branch cut is about 12" in diameter. In the past, if I don't use pruning paint I will get rott on the cut surface. The tree(s) are back for hurricane purposes. Thank you
  • dixon tree service May 4, 2016 >Thanks for the article and to share with us a nice information on pruning.
  • Jerry Reed April 26, 2016 >Thanks for this information! More awareness must be spread regarding the usage and ill effects of pruning sealants. There is a large majority of tree owners who use natural sealants on their trees or shrubs after pruning. We need more articles and insight if these should also be avoided and more! Good post
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