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Cutting cherry blossoms: instructions in 5 steps | When to cut back?

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The Japanese flowering cherry, usually known as ornamental cherry, is one of the most popular decorative trees in the garden. Prunus serrulata blooms in attractive pink tones and inspires with its abundance of flowers, which immediately reminds of Japanese cherry blossom festivals. In order to keep the tree in bloom and shape, it is important to prune it. Many owners of Japanese flowering cherries wonder when and how to do the pruning?

Why cut

As such, it is not necessary to cut the Prunus serrulata, as the rose plants keep their shape quite well on their own. However, there are a few reasons that speak in favor of pruning an ornamental cherry:


The respective size of the ornamental cherries depends on their variety. This can range from three to eight meters. Due to the different growth forms, from narrow columns to spherical crowns to branches that overhang, the plant can quickly become too big. For example, if the tree hits the wall of a house or protrudes into the neighboring property, you should think about a cut.

Growth rate

Over the years, your specimen may become slower and slower in terms of growth. Then this is a sign that they have too many branches and should definitely be cut back. This can also happen if the cherry does not keep its shape.


The older the tree gets, the more important pruning measures are. The cut protects the cherry from aging, which can be severely restricted to growth. Aging is also a point that can limit the rate of growth. The cut gives you vitality and thus ensures a permanent rejuvenation cure for your ornamental cherries.

Weak bloom

If the cherry grows too fast or too dense, it can happen that fewer flowers are formed. Since ornamental cherries can only exude their charm through their abundance of flowers, a cut is necessary.

health status

Cherries are extremely healthy trees thanks to good care and a suitable location. However, here and there branches break off, dry up or become sick. In this case it is necessary to refresh the crown to give the cherry new energy.


When the cut is made depends on the type of growth of the ornamental cherry. The flowering period extends from March to the end of May, while large amounts of sap are formed over the winter. For this reason, the Clearance cut directly after floweringbecause cherries have a tendency to bleed. An alternative date is from the end of June to the end of July. This completely rules out winter pruning before flowering.

The Topiary on the other hand should im October be performed. This helps to give the plant a certain shape. However, you have to pay attention to the earliest year from which you should cut the flowering cherries:

  • Young plants after three years: gentle pruning
  • then annual clearing cut
  • Topiary only from the age of four

Remember: the topiary is only necessary if you want to cut or rejuvenate the flowering cherry in a special shape. Otherwise the clearing cut is completely sufficient.

tip: The further south you live, the faster the cherry will wither. For example, some cherries stop blooming at the end of April, which means that the possible cut date is earlier.


Because of the strong tendency to bleed, you should be on high quality Set tools, because Prunus serrulata is extremely sensitive to bruises and fibers that have been torn from the wood due to blunt blades. You will need the following tools, which are important for the different stages of cherry tree life:

  • Secateurs
  • Loppers
  • Pruning saw
  • Wound protectants

Make sure that the scissors have a Telescopic handle and a Anvil function feature. These help to cut the branches and save you a lot of effort. Cherry branches can get quite thick, which is what makes scissors with an anvil so valuable. Before using the scissors, you should sharpen and disinfect them to prevent bacteria or fungi from getting into the cuts.

tip: Electric scissors and saws also do a good job. Although these are significantly more expensive, they separate the branch effectively and without further damage, which will benefit your ornamental cherry.

Clearance cut: Instructions

The most important pruning of the Prunus serrulata is the annual thinning after flowering. You shouldn't wait too long with this and it is best to do it in the first two weeks afterwards. The clearing cut takes place in two stages:

  • first cut in the 3rd year after planting
  • annual average from the 4th year

first clearing cut

For the first cut of the ornamental cherry, proceed as follows:

1. Check the tree for the oldest branches before pruning. You can recognize this by the bark, which is dark brown and cracked. In addition, these hang closer to the ground than others.

2. Remove this completely up to the trunk. Be careful not to cut into the trunk, as these wounds will bleed quickly and make your ornamental cherry sick in the long run.

3. Remove side shoots from ornamental cherries that are heavily branched. These can also hinder growth. You should also remove kinked branches.

4. After the cut Wound closure agents apply and dispose of with the green waste. On the compost, the cut parts of the plant would take too long to rot.

Annual average from the 4th year

From the fourth year onwards, follow these instructions:

1. For this cut you have to use the ornamental cherry like this gentle thin out as possible. From the fourth year onwards, she does not recover very well from extensive pruning.

2. Proceed here in the same way as for the first clearing cut. The old shoots in particular need to be removed.

3. Particularly large ornamental cherries are an exception. If your specimen has a sweeping crown, you must first make the classic clearing cut and then cut the crown back onto a branch. This allows fresh branches to sprout until the next year, which reduces the weight of the crown.

4. To do this, simply cut back all the branches that were not removed beforehand. Shorten these back to the old wood, but never cut into this.

5. In conclusion Wound closure agents use for the interfaces on the trunk and dispose of plant residues.

Topiary: Instructions

The shape cut is, as described above, not absolutely necessary. However, you can aim for a certain shape that the tree will take on and keep over the years. For this you need the same tools, but proceed as follows:

1. First choose a shape. Flat crowns, pillars and spheres are particularly popular.

2. Now select your desired shape and height for flat crowns and spheres. Make a plan, preferably on paper, to keep track of the shape. The height determines when the crown should start. Mark this point with a piece of cloth or string.

3. Now cut back the corresponding branches until the shape is correct. You should always do this over a bud position and trim the branch vertically. Do not cut into the old wood here either. Then all branches are completely removed up to the marking.

4. In the case of a columnar shape, you do not need to determine the height, as it starts directly from below. Here you can simply shorten all of the side shoots to the desired length, preferably ten to twenty centimeters. Over the years, the shape resembles a pillar and no longer a classic crown.

5. Having larger wounds Wound closure agents treat and dispose of green waste.

tip: Ornamental cherry varieties with drooping crowns are not given a topiary. However, you should cut branches that are too long if they come too close to the ground or remove wildly branched branches so that the crown can be thinned out.