Pruning is essential for the health of your plants. It is essential for shaping and neatening trees and shrubs and keeping them pest and disease free. Pruning is also essential for lush foliage and to encourage abundant flowering and fruiting in orchards and gardens. It’s also done to create the desired shape in tress and shrubs.
Timing – when to Prune:
General Pruning can be done any time, depending on what you want to achieve. However it’s usually best to prune when the plant is actively growing, or about to. This will show quicker results and have more benefits.
Pruning to remove dead wood or diseased plant matter can, and should, be done anytime of the year.
The Benefits of Pruning
- Pruning encourages new, more robust, growth and sprouting of new branches and stems from below the cut sites. This is because the act of cutting diverts growth hormones from the apex of the plant to the growth nodes below the cut.
- Encourages bushier growth in ‘leggy plants’, fruit trees and shrubs.
- Strengthens trees and shrubs – making them more wind and pest resistant while stimulating new growth.
- Improves the appearance and shape of many trees and shrubs.
- Increases flowering, fruiting and foliage when the growth hormones are concentrated on new growth rather than previous season’s growth.
- Removes dead and diseased wood and foliage that can attract pests.
- Removes already diseased parts of the plant that can hinder growth and weaken the plant.
- Improves overall air flow and circulation through the plants branches, helping to prevent fungal diseases
Pruning methods may vary for different plants – but there are some basics to successful pruning.
To encourage healthier, more robust growth:
- Remove all the dead, dying and diseased branches
- Remove any branches that grow inward, through or across other branches to improve air flow and create space for new growth.
- Trim away any branches growing from the base of fruit or other trees
To encourage bushier growth:
- Cut back to about a half inch from bud on the central stem, or lateral buds that face up or out (having just removed outward growth, you don’t want more). Always cut at a downward-slanting angle – away from the bud.
- Cut back all the branches to the shape that you want. As the tree or shrub grows, you can prune any errant growth back to maintain the shape. Depending on what you want to achieve, you may need to do this regularly through the growing season.
Do not remove more than a third of the total growth as a rule. However, you can prune more if the tree or shrub is old or there is lot of diseased or unwanted growth. Pruning is a skill, and can even be an art. You’ll have fun learning to prune your plants. Your plants will love you for it and your garden will reward you with vigorous growth and tons of flowers.