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How to Prune a Liquid Amber Tree

Updated February 21, 2017

Sweetgum is another name for the Liquid amber tree. It is a medium to large tree, growing 80 to 100 feet tall. It is found primarily in the eastern regions of the United States. Characterized by its perfectly triangular growth and leaves that look remarkably like a maple, Sweetgum produces spiked fruits that are hard and release numerous little seeds. Liquid amber can be grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5 to 9, and the tree is a deciduous specimen that turns a rich crimson in fall. Liquid amber tree needs little pruning except for height reduction and seasonal cleanup.

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  1. Mix 1 part bleach with 9 parts of water into a spray bottle and spray the tools. Wipe them dry with a clean rag. Perform this sanitising before each pruning project.

  2. Set up a ladder to help you reach the material to be pruned. A pole pruner is useful to reach very high wood but should never be used around power lines. Remove broken or damaged wood first to clear the view of the tree. Sweet gum grows on a straight central leader and needs very little pruning to maintain the shape and a clear canopy.

  3. Cut back any limbs that are competing with the central leader. Shorten them by one-third so they will branch instead of growing vertically. Remove water spouts, which are weak upward growths off the main branches. Cut out any crossing or rubbing branches.

  4. Clear the canopy of extraneous twigs to open it up and increase light and air to the interior. Shape any exterior wood that is growing out of line. Practice proper pruning techniques by cutting 1/4 inch outside the branch collar or the parent wood. Cut any dead wood back to live wood.

  5. Top the tree only when it is young. Training the tree to keep a lower habit has to be managed annually. Ideally the tree should not have been planted if there is not room for its mature size. Contact an arborist for removal or to help you shape the top of a very tall Liquid amber tree.

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Things You'll Need

  • Bleach
  • Spray bottle
  • Ladder
  • Pole pruner
  • Saw
  • Loppers
  • Hand pruners

About the Author

Bonnie Grant began writing professionally in 1990. She has been published on various websites, specializing in garden-related instructional articles. Grant recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management with a hospitality focus from South Seattle Community College.

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