Pruning Basics, Part 2

When And What To Prune

Continuing from our earlier blog, the second issue is when to prune.  Generally you are safe to prune a plant soon after it blooms.  If a plant blooms in spring, the buds were set in Autumn;  prune it after it blooms in spring and you won’t diminish bud formation in fall.  If a plant blooms in summer or autumn, it blooms on current season’s growth.

The third issue is what to cut.  When pruning is necessary I suggest you prioritize the cuts:

  • Prune dead, damages and/or diseased wood
  • Prune for stucture
  • Prune for aesthetics

First, remove any dead or damaged wood, or wood showing the presence of disease.  The plant will be better off with a clean cut opening new space into which healthy wood can grow.  When pruning back perennials in the fall, wait until the foliage of the plant begins it’s dormancy phase by turning yellow/brown in color.  We usually leave 2″ – 3″ of foliage above the ground.

Second, prune for structure.  Remove crossing branches and suckers from the plant. Cross branches will be rubbing each other causing injury.  Sucker are adventitious shoots that extract an inordinate amount of energy;  it is best to remove these and allow reserves to be allocated to healthy tissue.

Third, stand back and assess the plant.  The plant may appear unbalanced due to the (necessary) first and second priority cuts.  Now prune the plant for balanced growth.  Take your time while making these cuts; continue to step away from the plant to gain perspective and visualize the end product you are working toward.  In time you’ll develop a confident eye.  We look at the third priority pruning as working with living sculpture.

The last two blogs cover the basics of pruning.  You can always contact us if you have any questions.  Enjoy!

Kevin pruning small branches on an ornamental tree

Kevin pruning small branches on an ornamental tree