Pruning Umbrella Pines

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Janet Ibbotson

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Pruning Umbrella Pines
« on: July 26, 2012, 07:25:45 AM »
When should I prune, that is, remove lower branches from an umbrella pine.  I have two young pines about 20-30 ft tall shading a seating area.  There are 3 or 4 large branches on each which need removing because they are in the way, look tatty or removal will improve the shape of the trees.  I assume I should do it when they are dormant which I think is during the summer but somehow it doesn't seem right to prune trees in the stressful summer months.
Janet Ibbotson
MGS Member currently based in Skopelos, Greece but also gardens in Norfolk

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Alisdair

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Re: Pruning Umbrella Pines
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2012, 08:19:55 AM »
Late winter is the best time for pruning umbrella pines in the Mediterranean, just before they start making their new "candles". But they do seem to be pretty adaptable (we prune a much younger one in Greece, and a 30-footer in SW France, in the early autumn with no ill-effects).
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

Alice

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Re: Pruning Umbrella Pines
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2012, 12:23:32 AM »
Are there any benefits in removing the lower branches of pines? I find I am always torn between removing them and creating a shaded area under a nicely shaped tree or keeping them as an extra wind break.
Amateur gardener who has gardened in north London and now gardens part of the year on the Cycladic island of Paros. Conditions: coastal, windy, annual rainfall 350mm, temp 0-35 degrees C.

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Alisdair

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Re: Pruning Umbrella Pines
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2012, 09:12:50 AM »
It really boils down to what shape you want. If you like the classic umbrella shape, then prune. With any sort of pine tree, cutting out branches does to some extent reduce the tree's vigour, but when the lower branches are anyway carrying a much smaller proportion of active foliage than the upper ones (as is typical with umbrella pines) then cutting out these lower ones isn't going to affect the tree's vigour much if at all.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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Janet Ibbotson

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Re: Pruning Umbrella Pines
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2016, 05:47:03 PM »
And now I have another question about pruning my umbrella pines.  Is it possible to prune the top of an umbrella pine to keep its height down?  I don't really see how it can be done without ruining the shape of the tree or encouraging more unwanted growth but the two trees on my upper terrace are starting to shade the swimming pool which is not desirable as our land is east facing and loses the sun relatively early anyway.
Janet Ibbotson
MGS Member currently based in Skopelos, Greece but also gardens in Norfolk

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Alisdair

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Re: Pruning Umbrella Pines
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2016, 09:01:59 AM »
Janet, I have seen one top-pruned umbrella pine, which was growing exactly as you'd expect - looking rather unbalanced, and with very extensive side growth, which would probably mean even more shade for your pool. Perhaps you might consider what is seen more commonly, and that's leaving the tops to continue growing but being pretty ruthless with the lower branches, aiming eventually for a tall clear trunk with a rather dainty 18th-century top parasol?
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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Janet Ibbotson

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Re: Pruning Umbrella Pines
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2016, 04:23:16 PM »
Thank you Alistair.  Having done some research on the internet that was what I was starting to think.  One of the trees has a second trunk from ground level, so we could try taking that out, which would reduce the mass a bit and the horizontals that are starting to overhang the roof should certainly come off in the next year or so.  The trees were already established when we built the house and we loved them so we incorporated them into the overall design but they are beginning to dominate.
Janet Ibbotson
MGS Member currently based in Skopelos, Greece but also gardens in Norfolk