Cutting the Trumpet Tree Perfectly - A Tutorial

Cutting the Trumpet Tree Perfectly - A Tutorial

The best time is in winter

The best time to cut a trumpet tree is late winter . On other dates, the most beautiful attributes of your house tree fall victim to the scissors or you collide with the regulations of the Federal Nature Conservation Act. The following overview summarizes all the arguments for a winter cutting time:

  • Leaf-free winter time allows a perfect overview of the crown
  • Decorative fruit decorations made from long pods are preserved for a long time
  • Unobstructed view of the flower buds
  • Gentle on the tree in sap rest
  • No harmful effect on nesting birds

also read

  • Cutting the trumpet tree - when is the best time?
  • Trumpet tree loves a sunny and warm location
  • Trumpet tree impresses with orchid-like blossom

Alternatively, prune a trumpet tree after the flowering period in August. At this time the tree has not yet planted the flower buds for the next year. If the cut care is limited to this year's growth , a cut is permitted within the summer grace period .


Never cut your trees at temperatures below -5 degrees Celsius. Further exclusion criteria when choosing a date are summer heat and drought as well as rain. Extreme weather conditions of all kinds can torpedo the cutting result up to total failure.

Instructions for clearing cut

A trumpet tree develops its representative stature without a cut. Occasional thinning is still an advantage so that the crown is flooded with light and thrives with dense foliage. The figure below illustrates how a trumpet tree that has been exposed to light looks before and after. How to complete the perfect clearing cut:

  • Thinning out the crown every 5 to 6 years in winter
  • Cut dead wood on astring
  • Remove branches growing in the wrong direction
  • Cut out the weaker ones from parallel shoots without long mutes
  • Cut or tear off shoots from the trunk or tree slice

Do you have doubts as to whether an instinct has died or not? Then do a simple vitality test. Scrape off a piece of bark with the tip of a thumbnail or a knife. If juicy, light or green tissue emerges, life pulsates in the shoot and it will continue to grow. Dark, dry tissue, on the other hand, signals that growth has stopped at this point and the branch should be thinned out.

Trumpet tree clearing cut


Expert preparation - avoid security risks

In order for the gardener and the trumpet tree to survive the pruning measure in good health, the right preparation is essential. The basic equipment includes a stable ladder, work gloves and protective goggles. For cutting branches up to 4 cm in diameter, pruning shears are available, optionally with a bypass or anvil mechanism. You can master thick branches with a Japanese saw. For gardeners who are not afraid of heights, we recommend a Combisystem pruning shears, which at least cut up to 5 meters in height without climbing the ladder. Scissor blades and saw blades should be sharp, squeaky clean and disinfected. If you expect a mountain of clippings, a garden shredder will take care of the disposal.

Topiary regulates space problems

The expansive crown growth of trumpet trees is often underestimated. With a height of 10 to 15 meters, the crown extends over an impressive diameter of 8 to 12 meters. This can cause space problems even in a large garden. The most frequent reason for a shape cut on the common trumpet tree is the professional reduction of the crown. Following a thorough clearance cut, proceed as follows:

  • The best time is in January / February on a mild, overcast day
  • Shorten excessively long scaffold branches by a third or half
  • Start the cut 5 to 10 mm above an opposing pair of buds
  • Massively ramified, overhanging shoots slim down to a young side shoot

Take a few steps back after each cut to plan how to proceed. You can avoid larger holes in the crown pattern by giving preference to a drain cut rather than a simple shortening. If you feel compelled to remove a thick branch, please proceed in stages. At about 40 centimeters from the trunk, saw the branch from below. Pull out the saw and move the next cut 10 centimeters to the right or left. Now saw until the branch breaks off. Finally, saw off the stump on astring.


Derivation perfected topiary

Please don't get carried away with capping a massive crown. The devastating result is a trumpet tree with the appearance of a pollarded willow. Discreet succeed the crown reduction , if you are familiar with the technique of deriving section . To do this, take a look at an extra-long scaffold drive. Look out for a lower, sloping, outward branch. Apply the saw or scissors exactly where both shoots fork. Ideally, cut a few millimeters in the old wood. The previous side shoot rises in the branch hierarchy and takes over the local leadership position with immediate effect.

Cut ball trumpet tree

A ball trumpet tree gets to know the pruning shears more often than its big brother. That applies at least to an older specimen when the spherical crown loses its harmonious shape. The figure below illustrates how a skilful shape and clearance cut can be made at intervals of 2 to 3 years. How to properly prune Catalpa bignonioides 'Nana':

  • The best time to cut is in late winter
  • Cut back all main branches by up to two thirds
  • Important: leave at least a 15 to 20 cm long stump
  • Choose interfaces in a short distance to a sleeping eye

Wound treatment of larger cut surfaces has proven to be disadvantageous. Instead of completely sealing cuts with tree wax, simply coat the wound edges. At this point there is valuable cambium wood, which is responsible for the tree's own wound healing and should be protected from frost.

Moderate recut

A radical crown cut by up to two thirds reduces the cutting effort in the following years. If you prescribe a new shape pruning for your ball trumpet tree after a few years, the scope is limited to the branches that have been driven out since then. Cut the branches at the previous cut back to the roots. This incision leaves a slightly larger crown structure that retains its harmonious spherical shape.

Ball trumpet tree topiary

frequently asked Questions

Is a Trumpet Tree Poisonous?

Experts classify the trumpet tree as slightly toxic. The tree species is not on the official list of poisonous plants of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. According to an overall review by the GIZ (Poison Information Center North), there is a minimal risk of poisoning if plant parts are swallowed in large quantities. For gardeners, quinoid ingredients in wood are relevant, which can trigger allergic reactions if they come into direct contact with the skin.

I bought my new trumpet tree with 3 thin trunks that grew to 3 meters. How do I get a crown to form?

If you want to raise a trumpet tree as a single stem, select the most stable stem and equip it with a support rod. Cut the remaining thin stems off at ground level. If the tip of the shoot is 4 to 6 buds above the desired crown attachment, cut off the tip of the bud. It then sprout lateral branches, which form the leading branches to form the crown.

Winter protection is recommended for a freshly planted trumpet tree. Which tree areas need to be protected? Which material is suitable?

Primarily the root area and trunk should be protected from winter weather conditions. In autumn, cover the tree slice with a thick layer of leaves and brushwood or bark mulch. Wrap the trunk with fleece or jute ribbons.

Our trumpet tree has been in the bed for a year and has grown quickly. However, many branches are weak and keep breaking off. What to do?

Catalpa bignonioides is easily prone to breakage at a young age. You can counteract this shortcoming with regular clearing and contouring. In the first few years, regularly remove dead and damaged shoots. By cutting back the crown by a third in late winter, you encourage the growth of young, healthy and resistant branches. Every cut creates a sap accumulation in the fast-growing wood, which has a beneficial effect on a compact, dense and evenly branched crown.

The 3 most common mistakes

Prudent gardeners act according to the motto when it comes to pruning: recognized danger is averted danger. The following table draws attention to the three most common cutting errors with damaged images and provides tips for prevention:

Cutting errorsDamageprevention
never cutSpreading crown, in old age the tips of branches drooping like towersThinning every 5 to 6 years and cut into shape
radically cut oversized crownmisshapen growthDerive excessively long scaffold drives
cut in autumnno fruit decorations in winterBlend in January or February


Strengthening winter hardiness is a big issue in caring for the trumpet tree. So that your house tree is well prepared for severe frost, it receives a potassium-based fertilizer in autumn. Comfrey manure fulfills this task in the natural garden. Alternatively, give Thomaskali, Patentkali or Kalimagnesia at the end of August / beginning of September at the latest.