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!

  • 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?
  • The Tree Doctor July 16, 2018 > Hi Tom, Depending on the type of sealer used and quantity applied, trying to scape off the sealer may cause more damage than leaving it as is. A thick, asphalt sealer may come off in patches. A thin coat of spray sealer may not be able to be removed at all. If it looks like bark is tearing off with the sealer, I would leave well enough alone. While sealers typically do not have the beneficial uses often attributed to them, any direct negative effects are typically rare as well when applied as directed on the product.
  • tom kemp July 11, 2018 >Can i simply scrape off the tree sealer I used on my Mature front-yard maple tree.?
  • The Tree Doctor June 14, 2018 >Hi Gregory, No need to worry. The pruning sealer contains no materials that would move systemically inside the tree. Your peaches are safe to eat. Here if you have any more question, Gregory.
  • Gregory Demeter June 13, 2018 >My Peach Tree cracked between the main stump and it almost killed it; but before I tied the branch back together, I sprayed Spectracide Pruning seal inside the Trunk Crack; my question is, will it poison the Fruit when it comes to harvest the Peaches? Because the Sealer got inside the Tree by my spraying it BEFORE I tied it back and closed the crack....will it be safe to eat the Peaches? Please reply, because I really love this Tree and I planted it myself, about 4 years ago....Thanks. Greg Demeter
  • The Tree Doctor June 12, 2018 >Hi Moak, You may safely remove the limb at your convenience. There isn’t a need to cover the cut with wound dressing or do anything else. Any sap that flows from the pruning cut does not harm the tree and will stop as soon as the cut surface dries.
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