Pruning Rowan

Pruning Rowan

The rowan tree, or sorbus aucuparia, is deciduous and can grow up to 15m in height and live for around 200 years.

During spring the rowan will blossom with bright white flowers, followed by a burst of red berries in late summer, early autumn.

This tree has a long and popular history in folklore for apparently being able to protect against witchcraft and enchantment. The rowan has many folk names and so you may well know it as mountain ash, which is the most popular.

Pruning rowan trees

The large amount of fruit can become heavy on the branches and weigh them down, which is why it is very important to prune this tree regularly. Pruning will help to encourage a strong framework for support. Without this the branches could break off under the pressure. This tree will also benefit from having damaged or crossing branches removed.

The rowan can suffer from fireblight so look out for wilting blossoms, cankers and oozing slime. It is also susceptible to silver leaf disease, this will be apparent silvery leaves and branch dieback.

When to prune rowan tree

Autumn to early winter is the best time to prune your rowan tree. However, if you are pruning simply to remove deadwood this can be done at any time.

How to prune a rowan tree

Pruning in June

If you have planted a rowan as a solitary feature and you want to create a tree with a shapely trunk, you can raise the crown in summer. Saw off the lowermost side branches first. If these are very thick, it is better to saw them approximately 10 cm from the trunk. Start by making a saw cut several centimetres deep on the underside of the branch and then saw the branch through from the top. After the branches have been removed, you can shorten the stumps. Always keep enough distance from the trunk so that the branch collar is left intact. The branch collar is the thickened base of the branch where it joins the trunk. Treat the pruning cuts with a wound sealant.

Pruning between October and February

The rowan can be pruned more drastically in the winter months. If you want to continue improving the shape of the crown, this should be trimmed regularly between October and February. The crown needs thinning out if it has too much dead wood, as this causes a thin leaf cover on the outside of the tree. To thin out the crown, remove some of the thicker branches, divided evenly all over the crown. Make a saw cut a few centimetres deep on the underside first, before sawing from the top. This prevents the branch from tearing. A pruning saw is the best tool to use. Make sure you do not cut too close to the trunk of the rowan, and treat the cuts with a wound sealant.