Pruning a Buckeye Tree

The buckeye tree is a distinctive and well-known tree, popular among children for their brown seeds which are often swapped and shared during the fall. While not generally grown for their nuts, which are toxic if not boiled, the buckeye tree is popular with landscape gardeners due to its small, square size and their very early flowering. Buckeyes can be placed into a landscape with later-flowering trees in order to ensure that there is color in the garden all year round. Pruning is essential to keeping the buckeye tree in a good shape, and to enable gardeners to limit its growth upwards or to the side. Buckeye trees can reach nearly 20 feet in width, which would not be suitable for most gardens.

Pruning a Buckeye Tree

The buckeye tree is one of the first trees to produce flowers and new growth after the winter, so it is important to bear that in mind when deciding to prune. In addition, buckeyes are among the first to lose their leaves during the fall, but they do not go into hibernation until later on in the year. However, the best time to prune most buckeye trees is during the summer, when the shoots have become full-blown leaves and stems. Although it is not common for gardeners to have to prune trees in the summer, this is the opportune time for buckeye trees, in order to limit damage. The only exception to this is the Red buckeye, which is very vigorous, and should be pruned in the late winter.

As the buckeye is often cultivated as an ornamental, it can sometimes be pruned back very severely, in order to keep it short and small. The red buckeye tree can be a particular problem, as it is very vigorous, and can reach heights of between 15 and 20 feet. The Red buckeye should be pruned back in the very early spring, before buds and flowers have formed.

Other Pruning Ideas

In very dense areas, with competition, the buckeye tree can be encouraged to self prune; other trees in close proximity limit the large crown that causes large branches on the lower parts of the tree. With careful planting, the tree can be encouraged to limit its on growth and shape. It is important to remember that the first few years after planting, the buckeye tree should not be pruned or cut back with shears, as the tree is not yet properly established, and cutting can cause harm.

Sometimes, after transplanting, the buckeye tree can suffer shock, and even die back a little. This will involve the browning and even death of branches and leaves for the first two or so years after transplanting. Prune away all the dead mass, and keep an eye on the tree for any signs that it is not flourishing.

The buckeye tree is also a popular hedgerow plant, and in order to encourage the trees to form dense shrubbery, frequent pruning is necessary, sometimes as much as every 3 months the buckeye tree should be cut back into the required shape.