Pruning can serve many purposes. It can keep a plant’s size in check,
encourage flowering or fruiting, remove or deter pest and disease problems
or help to improve the overall appearance of a plant by changing its shape.
|Choosing The Right Tools
Good quality, well-maintained pruning tools are essential. You may need
a pruning saw, long-handled loppers, hedge shears, pruners and gardening
gloves. Be sure to keep all types of pruners sharp. Dull blades may crush a
stem, leaving it vulnerable to infection from disease.
Pruning to Shape
First observe the natural shape of a plant and then prune the plant in a
manner that will allow the natural form to continue to develop. Remove any
excess growth that obscures the basic pattern of its natural form. When
pruning to shape, make your cuts above a bud or side branch that points in
the direction you’d like the new growth to take. Try to eliminate branches
that cross and touch one another. Crossing branches may rub together,
suffering injury, and are usually unattractive, especially in deciduous
plants out of leaf. Also, be sure to prune out dead, diseased and damaged
branches whenever they occur.
Pruning for Flower Production
Flowering shrubs bloom either from new growth or from old wood, depending
on the plant species. Before you prune, it is essential to determine its
type of growth. This way, you can avoid inadvertently cutting out stems that
would give you a flower display. Most spring flowering shrubs bloom from
wood formed during the previous year. Be sure to wait until these plants
have finished flowering before you prune them. Growth that the shrubs
produce after flowering will provide blooms for the next year. Most summer
flowering shrubs bloom on growth from the spring of the same year. These are
the shrubs you can prune during the winter
dormant season without sacrificing the next crop of blooms.
When To Prune
As a general rule, if a shrub flowers after mid-summer, it should be
pruned in early spring. If it flowers earlier in the year, pruning should be
done immediately after flowering.
|Shrubs that can be pruned in early
summer: (after flowering)
Cytisus, Scotch Broom
Kalmia, Mountain Laurel
Philadelphus, Mock Orange
Shrubs that can be pruned in early spring:
Blue Mist Shrub
Clethra, Sweet Pepper
syriacus, Rose of Sharon
Itea, Virginia Sweetspire
|Note: Prune evergreen shrubs (not
including conifers) between June 1st and August 15th after new growth
develops and hardens off. Prune conifers such as Pine, Spruce or Fir between
July 4 and Aug. 15 after new growth has hardened off. Do not cut back into
old wood, only trim the current year’s growth.