Pruning… it’s easy to learn… a few simple rules… and the rest is just common sense
Why Should You Prune Trees and Shrubs?
Pruning can help you accomplish a wide variety of purposes. The most common of which are:
A. To train young trees and shrubs into desirable forms.
B. To remove damaged or diseased parts before further harm can result.
C. To prevent later breakage through eliminating weak crotches.
D. To rejuvenate old plants.
E. To encourage the production of more flowers and fruit.
F. To open up growth, let sun in and aid ripening.
G. To keep trees and shrubs from getting too large.
H. To prevent the over-bearing of fruit which can strain the plant.
When Should You Prune Trees and Shrubs?
There is an old saying which says “prune when the shears are sharp“, which means anytime. But, if you’re not an expert, don’t do it. More harm results from this than you can shake a stick at. It’s much better to follow these general rules:
Trees: The best time to prune both fruit and ornamental trees is while they are dormant. With the more tender sorts, like peaches, apricots, and nectarines, wait until just before growth starts in the spring.
Shrubs: Prune shrubs that bloom in spring as soon as flowering is over; all others while they are dormant.
Evergreens: These are best pruned just before growth starts in the spring. This way the newly-cut look is covered with new growth quickest.
Vines: Just before growth starts in the spring is the general practice.
Bush fruits: Prune when dormant, preferably in late winter or early spring. Brambles often need an additional topping of new canes during the summer.
How Should You Prune Trees and Shrubs?
This is important. In no case leave a stub which will die and allow rot to enter the stem.
Second, be sure your tools are sharp. A dull knife, shear, or saw leaves a chewed, ragged edge that heals with difficulty and gives disease a chance to move in. And cut close to the trunk or main branch to make healing easy.
How you hold your tools will make a difference. Except where the crotch is too tight, hold your shears or knife so the cut is made from the bottom up. This prevents danger of pinching as well as stripping down the stem, if the cut is not clean.
If the branch is so large you have to saw it off, the only practical way is to saw from the top down – if you’ve ever tried to saw upward, you will know what I mean – and the weight of the branch keeps the saw cut open.
When you cut back a branch the plant immediately tries to heal the injury. At the same time it diverts the food supply to the nearest lesser branches to replace the part removed.
If this is a small branch or twig, it may throw buds, present but held inactive as reserves, into growth.
If an empty, branchless and bud-less stub is left, the plant will often generate buds, seemingly from nowhere, and throw them into growth. We call these adventitious buds.
Usually more than one new branch grows. This is how you thicken up plants, force branches where none grew before.