As you prune your trees, you will leave it with some wounds here and there. Out of concern, you will most likely want to heal the wounds as safely and as quickly as possible. Sealers are an option, but are tree pruning sealers necessary?
Tree Pruning Sealers and Wound Dressing
There are varying schools of thought regarding the matter. Some believe that they aren’t necessary since trees have been healing themselves naturally for millions of years.
Others don’t quite agree, as they see tree sealers as a great way to get your tree back in top shape in the quickest possible time.
Some research has shown that applying tree sealers after pruning can protect against insects and diseases. The same research claims that applying sealers slows down the healing process.
How Does A Tree Heal Itself?
Trees heal themselves over time, they do this by growing over the cut areas, or “the wound”. The new growth covers up the cut and keeps it isolated from the rest of the healthy parts of the tree.
If you carefully observe a tree that had been wounded a few years ago, you will still be able to see the old cut, even as there is a new growth over it.
This natural healing process involves the sap covering the wood in a bid to temporarily shield the tree from insects and rot.
As time goes by, the tree will start the process of growing new wood over the cut. It will continue to grow over the wound for several years.
In a case of storm or wind damage, making a cleaner cut may be required. This will help the tree cover the old area with much ease.
Remember to cut just before the collar (next to the tree trunk). If you are cutting off part of a damaged branch, then make your cut just before the fork on the limb.
Leaving a stub behind will make it harder for the tree to develop a new growth over the wounded area. Keep in mind that this process will take years, leaving you with a not-so-pleasant stub to look at during the healing period.
What To Apply On A Tree’s Wound
In the case of a wounded oak tree, it best you use a pruning sealer immediately after pruning.
There are several products you can use to seal the wounded areas, but keep in mind that sealer only lasts for about 10 days.
This is adequate time for the oak tree to self-heal, and limit the production of sap (which certain insects are looking for).
Below is a list of substances you can apply to a tree’s wound.
Asphalt sealers – This is an oil-based sealer, with the looks and smell of common road tar.
This can seal off the wound for as long as it is required to keep sap from flowing out of the tree. However, asphalt sealers don’t help the tree to heal, since it is an oil-based product.
Latex sealers – Latex sealers are an improvement in oil-based sealers. They can seal off the sap and repel insects at the same time, giving the tree ample time to heal itself.
Organic natural tree sealers – This is another viable option for sealing up tree wounds. They are made from organic substances and they are not detrimental to the health of trees.
Homemade tree pruning sealers – There are different types of “recipes” as far as homemade pruning sealers are concerned. This all depends on the person making them.
Many of these recipes have not been scientifically proven to be effective, so making homemade sealers is really at your own risk.
However, if your homemade sealer can achieve the basic goal of covering up the wounds of the tree for the 10-day healing process to take effect, then it’s good enough.
Household paints – Many have adopted the use of household paints as sealers, even though that is not what paints were made for.
Even though household paint can seal off tree wounds, it also hinders their ability to heal naturally.
How To Seal A Cut Limb On A Tree
Most tree experts will tell you that it is better to leave a tree wound alone so it can heal itself (as it has always done during history). However, there’s nothing wrong with making the process go faster, as long as it is safe for the tree.
Here’s an instance where helping the tree seal of its wounds is a great idea. Imagine if a limb is cut during the summer period when the tree is more prone to insects and diseases. Sealing off the wound immediately would help protect it from potential dangers.
Another thing to consider is this – A tree will find it very difficult to heal itself if the weather conditions are very dry. You can seal the tree in such a condition, as this will help it retain its moisture.
Follow these steps to seal your tree –
- Remove all jagged edges from the area where the tree limb was cut off.
- Cut a thin portion of 1/2 inches from the limb stub so the surface will be smooth (the remaining area where the limb used to be should be about 2 inches outward from the trunk
- Dust off the debris from the stub (this will create a nice surface for the liquid pruning sealer to properly coat)
- Get a paintbrush and dip into the liquid sealer
- Using the brush dipped in the sealer, proceed to coat the stub (brush back and forth and make sure all wounded areas are covered)
- Leave the sealer for about an hour to dry
- Do a quick check around the stub to make sure the sealer covered every space of the wound
- Repaint any area where the sealer missed the first time
Items You Will Need To Apply The Liquid Pruning Sealer
Below are the items you will need to carry out the task –
- Safety glasses (or goggles)
- A pruning saw
- A paintbrush
- A container of liquid pruning sealer
How To Make Your Own Pruned Tree Sealer
As I mentioned before, you don’t have to apply a sealer on every tree wound, as they can heal naturally. However, it isn’t a bad idea to lend a helping hand, as long as it is done the right way and is safe for the tree.
You may want to try your hands at making your tree sealer. Why not, you’ve got good reasons to do so.
One such reason is that certain trees are more prone to insect and fungal attacks than others. Such trees include oaks, maple, elms, birch, and willow trees. Trees like these require their wounds to be sealed off as quickly as possible to prevent insects and fungi from penetrating them through the wound.
Another reason why you would want to make your homemade sealer is that there are drilling (or boring) insects that will take advantage of every opening on the tree to penetrate and feast on the wood from inside.
Sealing wounds off in such a situation is a means of protection against such an attack.
When you whip up your batch of tree sealer, you will have first-hand knowledge of what the ingredients are. Another advantage of knowing how to make your tree sealer is that you can quickly make some whenever you want to prune.
Follow these steps to produce your homemade tree wound dressing –
Measure 3 parts each of diatomaceous earth, composted animal manure, and soft rock phosphate into a container.
For those who don’t know, diatomaceous earth is a product made from finely crushed diatoms (which is a fossilized sea plant).
After grinding, you will notice sharp edges on the powdery substance that cut the shells of any intruding insect. This will eventually kill them.
As for the decomposed animal manure and soft rock phosphate, they are filled with micronutrients that help the tree’s tissues heal.
You can get these materials at most home improvement stores that have garden sections. You can also find them in plant nurseries.
Use a clean stick to stir the mixture. You can sterilize the stick before you mix, just so there is no risk of infecting the tree.
Add the required amount of water and stir the mixture until it forms a nice, smooth paste.
And there you have it, your homemade tree sealer is ready!
You can now proceed to start sealing off the wounds on your tree!
Best Tree Sealers You Can Buy
Homemade tree sealers are great, but what if you don’t have the time (or desire) to produce them yourself? It just means you have to go out and buy already made tree sealers.
Here are a few I can recommend –
- Thompsons water seal wood protector
- Rainguard sealer
- Agra life clear sealer
- Agra life lumber seal
I trust this article has been able to answer your question – Are tree pruning sealers necessary?
I also hope the extra information about liquid tree sealers provided in this article has been helpful.