Pruning is one of those garden tasks that gives gardeners a lot of grief. Not the pruning per say, but when to prune what. Each garden holds plants of many different varieties with their own pruning needs and schedules. It’s always best to do your homework and get pruning advise on your plants requirements but there are some basic principles of pruning to help make the task a bit easier. Most plants fall into a season for pruning, spring, summer, fall or winter. The seasonal guide to pruning can make life a bit easier.
THE SEASONAL GUIDE TO PRUNING
What to Prune in Late Winter:
This is the time to prune your fruit trees, non flowering deciduous shrubs, deciduous trees, deciduous hedges and berried shrubs and trees. Exceptions are birches and maples which tend to bleed. Choose a warmer sunny day to do your pruning. Better for your plants and better for you.
What to Prune in Spring:
Check your garden and remove any dead or diseased portions from any and all plants. In early spring prune your summer flowering shrubs that bloom on new wood, evergreen hedges, rose bushes and non-flowering or berried broad leaved evergreens. Later in the spring prune your spring flowering shrubs and trees after they have bloomed. Check plants for water sprouts and suckers and remove. Be sure to cut suckers down at the ground level. For needle evergreens pinch back their candles (the new growth at each tip) by a third to a half to keep them compact.
What to Prune in Summer:
Prune summer flowering shrubs right after they have bloomed. When removing the spent flowers on rose bushes prune lightly as well as remove any suckers to ground level. Climbing roses can be pruned to control size now as well. If necessary prune your birches and maples. Observe your trees and bushes and remove any wayward branching to improve the plants form. Needle evergreens can be sheared to control their shape. To keep your flower gardens looking tidy dead head your perennials and annuals. This will also promote a second round of blooms on many cultivars.
What to Prune in Fall:
Re-examine your garden and remove any further dead or diseased plant material. Cut roses back by about one third except for tender varieties. Long canes on roses can be shortened. Clean annuals from the garden and cut back your perennials to ground level, except for tender selections such as lavender in cold winter areas. These can wait until spring. If you prefer, your perennials can wait until spring as well.
We will take a closer look at specific pruning tips in future articles.
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