Winter pruning tips

This is the time of year for cutting back plants. You can shape them as you like without being distracted by foliage, and you won’t disturb new growth.

There are a couple of exceptions to pruning this time of year — you don’t want to prune early spring bloomers unless you’re willing to sacrifice this year’s blossoms. The other rule of thumb — be extremely careful with evergreens. Prune back only as far as you have active growth. There are four reasons to prune:
  • to train the plant
  • to keep the plant healthy
  • to improve the quality of fruit, blossoms, stem, or foliage
  • to restrict growth

It’s likely that you will do all four of these with routine pruning.

Remember that pruning is the removal of specific plant parts for the overall benefit of the plant and while retaining the original shape of the plant. Pruning usually involves branches and twigs, but it may also involve removal of seed buds, flowers, and parts of the root. Good pruning shouldn’t be conspicuous.

To prune well, you need to understand why we prune. 

The terminal (last) bud or growth on a plant produces a hormone that inhibits the growth of other buds along the shoot. If that terminal bud is cut, the other buds near the cut can grow.

To reduce trauma to the plant, make your cut at a slight angle just above the bud — not too large an angle, because that will produce a larger wound. Cut the branch back to the main trunk or to another branch sothe wound will heal quicker. Stubs take longer to heal.

Some great sources for learning more about pruning include:

Pruning shrubs

Pruning trees

Pruning roses

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