Knowing when and how to prune your trees can be confusing for the novice gardener, especially when it comes to flowering trees. Most trees are pruned during the dormant winter months, but this can prevent flowering trees from producing buds in the spring. Pruning is not required for flowering cherry trees, but you may wish to shape the tree or remove competing branches.
Prune flowering cherry trees right after they bloom and before new growth starts. This will ensure that the tree has enough old growth to create blossoms during the next growing season.
Pinch off new growth to help shape the tree. If you wish to create a specific shape, the easiest way is to pinch off new growth as it emerges in unwanted areas. Use your thumb and forefinger.
Thin out branches with your shears. You can do this to remove branches that cross each other, or to thin the canopy to allow more sunlight and air to reach the interior branches. You can also use this technique to remove dead or unproductive branches.
Trim bottom branches if you want to raise the canopy. As you remove the lower branches, additional growth will occur at the top of the tree. Do not remove the collar of the branch where it meets a larger branch or the main trunk; this can harm the tree.
Do not prune flowering cherries too often or too drastically. Buds are created from old-growth wood; eliminating it will reduce the number of flowers in the spring.