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The Art of Pruning Plants

Gardening Tips

Pruning is the process of removing certain parts of a plant for its benefit. A lot of growers, newbies and experts alike, employs this method in their gardening regimen. Not only does it increase the yield in the end (it’s proven as well!), it will also make the plants healthier and stronger. But before you start hacking away the leaves of your plants, it’s important to understand the proper timing and the proper technique of pruning. While it’s true that pruning can be very beneficial for the plant, the wrong type of pruning can destroy and hinder growth. If you’re new to the whole pruning scene, below will be your guide on the proper timing and the proper technique of pruning your plants.

Proper Timing – When should you prune your plants?

As you may imagine, cutting down your plants cannot be undone; it’s a touch-move type of situation so the timing of everything is quite crucial. To start, dead, broken or diseased parts of a plant can be pruned anytime. In fact, it’s actually okay to remove them as soon as you see the anomaly. Branches that are colliding with each other can also be remedied by pruning anytime and the small plants that grow on the roots of some trees and shrubs can similarly be removed at any time.

If you want to shape or too thin out some plants, you will need to do them during dormancy or when the new buds are only starting to form. Plants that have needle-like leaves such as evergreen trees and shrubs should be pruned during mid-summer, especially when the new growth has already hardened. However, for evergreen trees, lower branches that are lying on the ground can be pruned anytime.

Plants that loses leaves in the fall and grows them back in the spring follows a general rule: if it flowers in the spring, pruning should happen after flowering and if it flowers in the summer, pruning should happen late winter or early spring.

Annual flowers can also be pruned anytime. An annual flower such as petunias can benefit a lot from light pruning whenever they look dull. Similarly, dead flowers should be removed as soon as you spot them together with broken branches, dead leaves and diseased parts.

Fruit trees vines and shrubs should be pruned to shape and to improve air circulation that the plant needs especially during dormancy. For raspberries and blackberries, branches that are at least pencil-sized should be removed. For grapes, pruning them to fit in a trellis net with one main trunk that can branch out in any direction.

Roses, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas are somewhat different. Roses can withstand heavy pruning while rhododendrons and hydrangeas cannot. Roses can be pruned up to two-thirds while rhododendrons and hydrangeas should only be pruned to reduce minor parts.

Proper pruning technique – How to prune your plants?

Now that we know the proper timing of pruning, the next step to learn is how to prune them exactly. First and foremost, knowing where the nodes of the plant are crucial. Nodes are the points on the plant where the branches originate from. The reason behind this is that doing inter-nodal cuts can be dangerous, as weak branches may rush in to take its place. These shoots will be very fragile and weak; they will be more prone to damage and diseases. Because of this, your cuts should always be just above a node. However, if you are cutting ornamental trees or shade trees, the cut should be done at the branch collar. This is located somewhere near just slightly above the trunk and the branch of the tree. If you are cutting huge chunks of limbs, it’s better to cut them in sections as it will be safer for you and it helps the tree to absorb the stress of the weight of the branch as it is cut. Evergreen trees and shrubs, pruning half a year’s worth of growth is ideal while the new growth should be pruned individually. Additionally, deciduous shrubs should not lose a third to a half at any given time.

The type of tools that you are going to use is also important. Hedge shears, either hand-held, electric or gas is usually enough for the job. Hand-help pruners or loopers should be used on young plants. Pruning annuals will require you to use thinning or bypass pruners.

Pruning is definitely a beneficial practice for growers. However, pruning can also severely damage a plant if done wrong, therefore, as a grower, you need to be fully informed first before acting. If done right, pruning will not only make your plants healthy and happy, they will also produce bigger yields!



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