Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Don't Just Cut Away! Know When to Prune

Pruning is an important factor in a growing shrub or tree. However, unnecessary and untimely cutting of branches and stems will lessen or halt its flowering season. Know the right time when pruning various flowering shrubs and trees. This will ensure a healthy, attractive and vigorous growth of your plants.

photo from gardeninginfozone.com
There are two types of shrubs and these are deciduous and evergreen shrubs. Both these types have specific time of pruning.

Deciduous shrubs. This type opens up its buds in spring and throughout the summer and fall season, then go dormant in the wintertime and then new growth appears again in spring.

  • Spring-blooming shrubs. They flower in the spring from the season's previous growth. Pruning these shrubs largely depend on their appearance and growth. When you notice the shrub's growth to be unwieldy, it is best to prune it during late winter to start of spring (April-May). Prune back as far 1/4 to 1/2 of the previous growth. Although heavy pruning may result to reduced flowers, the whole plant will experience beneficial long term effects of pruning. Examples are forsythia and lilac.
  • Summer-blooming shrubs. These shrubs that bloom in summer (like spirea and potentilla) can be pruned the same time as the spring-flowering shrubs. Prune in late winter to early spring and you will still be rewarded with a profuse blooming season in summer. NEVER prune the summer-flowering shrubs in late summer (July  to August) because it will lead to delayed growth and flowering. The plant will also be prone to winter damage.
Evergreen Shrubs. These shrubs stay green for the whole season. Taking care of these shrubs is done through cutting back its branches in early spring from March to April before they start to open new growth buds. Yew and Juniper are one of the examples of evergreen shrubs and they are commonly used as hedges. Prune these shrubs lightly in summertime for a neat appearance.

Deciduous Trees. The best time to prune deciduous trees is from February to March just before they open up foliage. Maple varieties will tend to bleed its sap when pruned in late winter to early spring, but don't be alarmed- the bleeding will gradually stop. Oaks are especially best to prune around February and March. Pruning oak trees around April to July will attract sap-drinking beetles harboring the oak wilt fungus and this will damage the oak.

Fruit-bearing Trees. The proper time to prune fruit trees is between February to the start of April to avoid the plant from getting injured from the freezing winter temperatures. 

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