Pruning is removing plant parts to improve plant shape or health and to reduce plant size. Properly selected and planted trees and shrubs generally require little pruning. A problem occurs when we select plants too large for the site or plant them too close to other plants, buildings or walks. Try to plan ahead and select plants that are properly sized for your location.
Do not prune too early or too late. These simple rules for pruning should work for most plants:
·Prune spring flowering plants (those that bloom before May 1) after they bloom, but before July 15. Pruning spring blooming plants too late (from mid July through bloom) can cut off flower buds and ruin the spring flower show.
·Prune non-blooming or summer blooming plants from January through mid-September. Late pruning of evergreen plants leaves a lot of bare branches and cut stems showing since new growth has slowed or ceased for the year. Plants pruned in late September through December recover slowly and look "clipped" through the winter. They may also produce new growth that will be killed by cold weather. This can make plants unsightly and slow recovery in the spring.
·Do not prune too often. We want plants to slowly increase in size every year and to attain a natural shape. Plants should keep some new growth to make food for the plant to live on.
·Do not constantly shear off all new growth. Try pruning plants two or three times a year, less if possible. Over pruning can make plants too thick on top, thin in the interior and weak. It can also lead to insect or disease problems.
·If the tree must be reduced in size, select individual branches to remove. Do not cut branches off in the middle. Instead remove entire branches at the point where they are attached to the main limb.
These pruning tips should help improve your plant’s health and looks. For more information, stop by the Walker County Extension Office at 102 East Napier Street in LaFayette.
Norman Edwards is coordinator of Walker County Extension Service.