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Palo Verde pruning help for a CA gardener, please & thank you!!

Katherine Rosa
last year
last modified: last year

Hi Arizona gardeners! I'm in love with your state tree, and it loves the heat of my inland-valley CA home (110 degrees at our highest last year).

But, as you can see in the photos, our Desert Museum is a bit blowsy or sloppy looking. And I have some questions & concerns about pruning. I'm having a hard time finding info online about maintaining a young palo verde.

We planted 4 of them from 15gals in 2020, & now this one is 12 (15?) feet tall. We lost the 3 others to wind after I pruned them and they had a huge mind-blowing growth spurt. For the 3 I pruned, I made sure to cut back to a large branch; I didn't top the tree, but I guess I inadvertently did the "lion tail" thing. So ever since then, I've been too nervous to prune this last one. I don't water it at all, in hopes of slower growth. But we have clay-ish soil that retains water (though water doesn't stand & we get zero rain april through November) so it still grows pretty darn fast. And we are in a windy-ish area. I know that's 2 strikes against us, but we really love this tree.

My #1 concern is the health & longevity of the tree. If zero pruning is the best way to ensure that, I'm fine with its broad and drooping shape. So give me your thoughts! Should I prune now, in the winter? Maybe just a little bit, or none at all? What's the best way to help my tree cope with wind?

Thanks a bunch from California!!

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