When it comes to pruning shrubs and flower beds, Heinen is your go-to expert! Below are some tips on how pruning works and the benefits of cleaning up your garden so it can thrive this spring.
Pruning is a horticultural practice that alters and encourages the form and growth of a plant. Based on aesthetics and science, pruning can also be considered preventive maintenance.
REASONS FOR PRUNING
Prune to promote plant health
- Remove dead or dying branches injured by disease, severe insect infestation, animals, storms, or other adverse damage.
- Remove branches that rub together, allowing them to grow freely.
- Remove branch stubs.
Prune to maintain plants; and for intended purposes in a landscape, such as:
- Encouraging flower and fruit development
- Maintaining a dense hedge
- Maintaining a desired plant form or special garden formations
Prune to improve plant appearance
Appearance in the landscape is essential to a plant’s usefulness. For most landscapes, a plant’s natural form is best. Avoid shearing shrubs into tight geometrical forms that can adversely affect flowering unless it needs to be confined or trained for a specific purpose. When plants are properly pruned, it is difficult to see that they have been pruned! Prune to:
- control plant size and shape
- keep shrubby evergreens well-proportioned and dense
- remove unwanted branches, waterspouts, suckers, and undesirable fruiting structures that detract from plant appearance
Prune to protect people and property
- Remove dead branches
- Have hazardous trees taken down
- Prune out weak or narrow-angled tree branches that overhang homes, parking areas, and sidewalks – anyplace falling limbs could injure people or damage property
- Eliminate branches that interfere with street lights, traffic signals, and overhead wires. REMEMBER, DO NOT attempt to prune near electrical and utility wires. Contact utility companies or city maintenance workers to handle it
- Prune branches that obscure vision at intersections
- For security purposes, prune shrubs or tree branches that obscure the entry to your home
PRUNING BEGINS AT PLANTING TIME
Pruning is really the best preventive maintenance a young plant can receive. It is critical for young trees to be trained to encourage them to develop a strong structure.
Young trees pruned improperly or not pruned at all for several years may require heavy may require heavy pruning to remove bigger branches to prevent trees from becoming deformed.
At planting, remove only diseased, dead, or broken branches. Begin training a plant during the dormant season following planting.
- Prune to shape young trees, but don’t cut back the leader.
- Remove crossing branches and branches that grow back towards the center of the tree.
- As young trees grow, remove lower branches gradually to raise the crown, and remove branches that are too closely spaced on the trunk.
- Remove multiple leaders on evergreens and other trees where a single leader is desirable.
Pruning young shrubs is not as critical as pruning young trees, but take care to use the same principles to encourage good branch structure. Container grown shrubs require little pruning.
- When planting deciduous shrubs, thin out branches for good spacing and prune out any broken, diseased, or crossing/circling roots.
- When planting deciduous shrubs for hedges, prune each plant to within 6 inches of the ground.
Trees and shrubs that bloom early in the growing season on last year’s growth should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming:
apricot | azalea | chokeberry | chokecherry | clove currant | flowering plum | cherry | forsythia | Juneberry | lilac | magnolia | early blooming spirea
Shrubs grown primarily for their foliage rather than showy flowers should be pruned in spring, before growth begins:
Shrubs that bloom on new growth may be pruned in spring before growth begins. Plants with marginally hardy stems such as clematis and shrub roses should be pruned back to live wood. Hardier shrubs such as late blooming spireas and smooth (snowball) hydrangeas should be pruned to the first pair of buds above the ground.