The Best Time to Prune

I don’t know many of us who set about to plant a tree or shrub that will outgrow its place and require constant repetitive pruning to keep it to an appropriate size. All the same, this is often what happens.

In fact there are several different reasons for pruning. One to reduce size, one to promote flowering, a third to enhance form and/or promote plant health. Follow these simple tips.

  • Prune in late winter or early spring just before the tree or shrub begins putting out new growth for the year. Do not prune in early summer unless you are pruning a spring-flowering shrub. Prune them immediately after they bloom. Buds for next year are formed on new wood.
  • Prune at an early age rather than when the plant is older and over-grown. It will be a lot easier!
  • Unless you are creating a hedge, prune to retain the plant’s natural shape and to remove dead and diseased wood.
  • When creating a hedge, keep the width of the hedge at the top slightly narrower than at the bottom to allow light to get to the lower branches.
  • Always make your cut near to where the branch connects to the main trunk or limb. Don’t leave stubs that can rot.
  • It is not necessary to use pruning paint; it has been shown this is not beneficial.
  • Keep your pruning tools (hand-held pruning shears, a long-handled lopping shears, a hedge shears, pruning saw, etc.) sharp to get smooth cuts that promote easy healing
  • Remove dead, diseased or insect-infected branches first, then branches that rub against one another.
  • Remove branches that are growing back into the center of the tree or shrub.

 

References

Tips on Tree and Shrub Pruning: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/tips_on_tree_and_shrub_pruning

A Guide to Successful Pruning: https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-459/430-459.html

Keys to Good Pruning: https://www.arborday.org/trees/tips/keys-to-pruning.cfm

Pruning Deciduous Shrubs: http://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/horticulture-care/pruning-deciduous-shrubs

Pruning Trees: http://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/horticulture-care/pruning-trees