Pruning Facts

Pruning is an important part of maintaining a healthy and beautiful landscape. Pruning influences how plants grow and perform. Early training lays the foundation for an attractive mature specimen.

First remove dead, diseased and damaged growth. Dead wood can be removed by cutting back to healthy wood, to a suitable bud or shoot. Damaged stems should be cut cleanly just before a bud or a shoot. Frost damaged growth should not be removed until the danger of frost is gone since the damaged wood still protects the plant from further damage.

Also remove reverted shoots and suckers on grafted plants. Crossing or crowded branching can cause problems when they rub together. Chafing damage potentially causes an entry point for disease. It may also cause structural damage as the branches thicken. Always carry out routine tasks as soon as a problem is noticed.

Prune at the right time of year. Pruning at the wrong time can certainly affect the ornamental features of a plant such as flowers, production of crop and foliage.

Know the plant you are pruning. When does it bloom? Does it bloom on its new growth or on last years or old growth? If it blooms on new growth then the plant should be pruned before it sets buds. If it blooms on older growth then it should be pruned after it is finished blooming.

Variegated plants occasionally produce reverted shoots with all green leaves. These should be removed at the point of origin or the plant may eventually be dominated by the green leaved growth. Removing spent flowers before going to seed can reduce self-sowing. Also by preventing the plant from expending energy on setting seed it can stimulate further growth and flowering.

Pruning causes stress to a plant so it should be done only when necessary. By choosing the right plant for the right place unnecessary pruning can be avoided.

Use the proper pruning tool for the job and apply disinfectants to pruning equipment after use to avoid spreading disease organisms.