Pruning Basics

Some Pruning tools that can be used to maintai...
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When to Prune?  Knowing the right time is crucial, pruning at the wrong time may not damage plants but it can sacrifice that year’s flowers or fruit

Late spring/Early Summer
Prune spring-flowering shrubs and trees which flower before July 1 immediately after the flowers fade. 

Several deciduous trees produce a heavy sap flow in early spring.  Pruning braches in this season won’t kill the tree, but the sap flow can bleed on to outdoor furnishings, patios, cars and walkways.  Avoid a sticky situation by pruning these trees in midsummer.  

Fall/Early Winter
Spring and Summer blooming hawthorns and viburnums are typically grown for their fruits, which attract wildlife.  Don’t prune these plants after flowering.  Allow fruits to mature and then prune plants after wildlife consume fruits.

Winter/Early Spring
Prune summer blooming trees and shrubs in winter or early spring, before new growth emerges.

Tips for Pruning
Keep cutting surfaces clean and sharp.  Keep metal parts of pruning tools oiled regularly to prevent rust.  Use pruning tools for pruning only, other materials can dull or damage the blades. 

No matter what kind of plant you’re pruning, you will use three basic techniques. 

Pinching is typically done by hand, using thumb and forefinger.  It’s a good method to increase bushiness and curtail and control plant size. 

Thinning involves removing branches back to the trunk, a main branch or the soil line.  With thinning cuts, don’t remove the branch collar (the wrinkled area near the trunk or main branch).  This area contains the cells needed to heal the cutting wound.  Slicing in the branch collar creates an opening for infection and disease to enter. 

Heading back shortens branches to a healthy bud or lateral branch.  Place cuts roughly ¼ inch above the bud or branch.

 This article is excerpted from Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine.

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