Late winter & spring pruning cuts can be very leaky.
When we prune trees as they are are exiting dormancy, sometimes we see the trees leaking fluid from the cuts. And, that’s (usually) okay.
In late winter and early spring, before and as trees begin to leaf out, their vascular systems become very active. Water and nutrients get active, traveling up from the roots quite readily.
And yes, trees can leak when we prune them in other seasons too.
Tree Leaking? Think about tapping sugar maples to make maple syrup.
This is done in winter and early spring when “the sap is rising”.
When we prune and a tree begins to drip, it’s basically the same thing that happens — though perhaps without the same tasty flavor that a sugar maple exudes.
Too, not all garden trees show seeping moisture from our pruning cuts. And, some will seep extra sticky stuff. In fact, beware of getting stuck to the goo oozing from a newly trimmed pine tree.
But, really, you rarely need to worry about the plant “bleeding” from cuts. It is already working to seal up those points of injury. And, if the cut is clean and the plant is healthy, it should be just fine without you intervening. In fact, if you do try to clog up the cut, you may do more harm than good to both the tree and the greater ecosystem that co-exists with it.
A few of considerations not to skip when your tree leaks when you prune…
There are a few things you do want to consider when pruning trees with rising sap.
- Some trees, like Birch may end up showing oozy stains from the rising sap trickling down their otherwise lovely bark. That’s why many choose not to prune birch and other showy bark trees when their sap is rising.
- Be sure that what you see oozing is actually just “rising sap”.
If your tree has cracks in its bark or strange fissures emitting gunky, gelatinous oozes, that may actually be an infecting body spreading about. If in doubt, be sure to have an arborist or plant pathologist check it out!
- That leaky stuff is loaded with nutrients and sugars. So those leaks may attract hungry wildlife including pest insects and sap-sucking birds. That might not be a problem, but these critters may add to the damage as well. So keep an eye on any long-lingering leaks and the creatures that feed on them.
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Or read about how you can make pruning easier on you and your trees by nipping buds in spring.