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 October 24, 2018 >Hi Barbara, Some sealers will form a thick barrier that can be peeled off with effort once dry. If yours is a type that only forms a thin barrier that resists peeling, I suggest you just leave it alone. While we typically do not recommend pruning sealers because they don’t really prevent decay, they are not harmful either if applied according to label directions. There are compounds available to remove tar and other petroleum products from surfaces, but the solvents they contain may be harmful to tree tissues. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Barbara.
  • Barbara Fontaine October 20, 2018 >How to remove prunning sealer from Newley sprayed small hibiscus tree
  • The Tree Doctor October 10, 2018 >Hi Kate, Camellias can be pruned hard, and older or overgrown plants are commonly cut down to only a few stems to rejuvenate them. As long as they were not extremely weak, diseased or in otherwise poor condition, they should be able to form new buds and initiate new growth in the spring. They will probably not bloom in the first year or perhaps even in the second. They will likely need the new growth to be thinned for structure as it forms. I would still have a certified arborist come out and inspect them. Davey Tree does not service your area, so here is a resource that can help you with hiring a certified arborist: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Kate.
  • Kate Landishaw October 8, 2018 >can camellias come back from massive hacking when there are no branches left, only a few feet of main trunk? These were 60+ yr old plants (yes, idiots do things like this -) thanks!
  • Mischelle Baldwin October 3, 2018 >I'm not talking about branches but those small spouts that come up every time you prune them back every year. Unwanted spouts that's you'd rather not have to prune every year. I usually call them Suckers.
  • Charles Caulkins September 2, 2018 >In areas where oak wilt is prevalent - pruning sealers are a must to prevent spread of the fungal spores by insects. We only prune when insect activity is low but still use sealers because the risk is so great
  • The Tree Doctor August 14, 2018 >Hi Kyle, No need to try and remove the pruning sealer. You would likely cause more injury to the root than merely leaving it. While we do not usually recommend pruning sealers when making pruning cuts, they have no severe disadvantages either. They do not protect the cut surface from decay as initially thought. Hopefully, this helps.
  • Kyle Thomas August 13, 2018 >Hey, I recently used Spectracide Pruning sealant on a few surface roots that had been cut off. I’m trying to help the tree survive and thought this would help. Now I’m reading this blog and my question is should I scrape off the sealant on the root or leave it alone? I cut the root about 2 feet from the base of tree and I’m trying to get the roots to grow back so the tree survives. Would the root I cut even grow back? Thanks! Oh and a realized after I cut it that I shouldn’t have to begin with. Lessons learned the hard way I know.
  • The Tree Doctor July 30, 2018 >Hi MoleMole Farm, Wound sealers are generally not recommended anymore to cover wounds on trees. There are a couple of exceptions to this general guideline, but they refer to reducing the likelihood of infection by specific diseases on specific trees. The recommendation now is to clean up any rough/loose edges with a sharp knife, rounding any corners rather than leaving sharp edges. Do not pull any tight bark away from the tree. Leave the wound to dry normally. It is best to consult a certified arborist and get their opinion in a situation like this. They will be able to inspect the site a recommend a safe and efficient treatment plan for your trees. Here is a resource that can help you with hiring a certified arborist or reputable tree care company: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you.
  • MoleMole Farm July 23, 2018 >Would you recommend using a tree seal/tree wound product to repair small cocoa trees that have been gnawed by wild boars?
Add a comment:
Related Blog Posts

Request a consultation

  • How would you like to be contacted?
*Please fill out all required fields.