Plum tree with a cut branch
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Why You Shouldn't Paint Your Tree Wounds After Pruning
For years, people believed painting tree wounds after pruning could prevent decay and speed up healing, but this has largely been debunked as a gardening myth.
A wound dressing like tar or paint acts less as a Band-Aid and more as a roadblock. It asphyxiates the tree injury spot, cutting off oxygen necessary for oxidative processes.
This hampers callus formation and the tree's compartmentalization process — a natural defense where the tree produces new wood around the wound to prevent infections and decay.
Furthermore, a painted wound can unintentionally lure pathogens, increasing the risk of disease. When the paint cracks, it creates a moist haven, perfect for decay to thrive.
However, for tree species prone to insect-borne pathogens, such as birch and oak, a dab of paint post-pruning may be just the defensive strategy you need.