Pruning Tools Hand clippers Scissor type Snapcut type Pruning shears Loppers Pruning saw
Pruning Some plants are pruned routinely to maintain a desired size and shape. Pruning will promote new, healthy growth, flowering or fruit. Pruning will reduce the size of an overgrown plant. Plants damaged by insects, disease or environmental conditions need pruning to remove these damaged parts. Pruning is the most least understood technique and frequently done wrong.
Pruning Time Plants that flower before June 1 (azaleas, dogwoods and forsynthia) prune after the flowers have dropped. Plants that bloom after June 1 (crepe myrtles, hibiscus and abelia) prune prior to spring growth. As a general rule of thumb: Plants not grown for flowers can be pruned lightly anytime of the year with heavy pruning saved for winter.
Pruning Technique Remove branches that compete with the central leader Remove branches that grow inward or cross with other branches. Remove upright growth or water sprouts. Remove low growing branches that interfere with vision or maintenance. Remove suckers originating from below-ground growth.
Pruning Shrubs A properly pruned shrub should look natural and should not look as if it as been pruned. Pruning cuts should not be visible. Pruning cuts should be made inside the plant. Remove all dead or damaged material first. Remove crossing branches. Remove older material on plants too dense. Head back excessively long branches to a bud or lateral branch 6-12 inches below the desired height. Do not use hedge shears. Cut each branch separately to differing lengths.
Pruning Technique Heading vs. Thinning Heading back or shearing is the indiscriminate cutting of the ends of vigorous of plants. This will produce a dense growth on the outside of the plant and may cause a bare interior due to loss of light. Thinning, cutting selected branches back to a main branch, encourages new growth from the inside of the plant keeping it full. Thinning will also help to reduce size and provides for a fuller, more attractive plant.
Renewal Pruning Overgrown plants, or those severely damaged from outside conditions, may need severe pruning. Renewal pruning is the cutting of a plant to within 6-12 inches of the ground. Best time for renewal pruning is midwinter. Renewal pruning will produce abundant growth by midsummer. As new shoots grow, prune them at a directional bud to encourage branching. Not all plants will respond favorably to renewal pruning. An alternative to renewal is a stepped pruning.
Pruning Technique To remove heavy branches without damaging the tree, a three-cut sequence is recommended. First, cut one-fourth to one-half way through the lower side of the limb. Make a second cut on the top of the limb a few inches away from the first. Remove the remaining stub by cutting back to the branch collar.
Pruning Trees Once the main framework of a tree is established, annual maintenance pruning is required. Prune limbs growing at narrow angles to the main trunk, less than 45 degrees. Remove branches that grow inward and threaten to rub. Remove branches that may inhibit routine management practices. Prune damaged limbs. Remove vigorous suckers or water sprouts. Remove branches that compete with the main trunk for dominance.
Pruning Vines & Ground Covers Pruning vines and ground covers will depend on plant vigor and will vary from year to year. Flowering vines need to be pruned the same time as flowering ornamentals. Prune to thin the canopy. Prune them to keep growth in bounds. Prune to rejuvenate their growth after winter damage, or insect and disease problems. Prune to encourage air movement within the plant. Prune to remove old growth on ground covers such as liriope and mondograss.
Pruning & Training Hedges Hedges that are used as privacy screens should be pruned properly early in its life to encourage a compact growth. Head back newly planted hedge shrubs to 12 inches form the ground. Prune new growth tips to encourage branching. To produce a dense shrub, continually prune to encourage new branching. Informal hedges are pruned using selective pruning and requires less maintenance. Formal hedges should be sheared and will require more maintenance. Always prune so the base is wider than the top.
Pruning Roses Prune roses when the buds start to swell in the spring. Remove weak, diseased or spindly wood and leave 3-5 of the most vigorous canes. Do not prune floribundas as heavily as hybrid teas. Prune climbers after the first flush of growth removing old and diseases canes.