Pruning is important for plant health

Published 8:05 am Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pruning plants and shrubs can be a most rewarding experience, and while nature alone can rid trees in the forest of dead and diseased limbs, our homes and gardens need our personnel expertise.

Pruning is not only for the aesthetic appeal, but more importantly, for plant health, and if you have any doubts about what to do, simply follow the 3 D rule ­­— dead, damaged, or dying.

These can be removed anytime by looking for branches that snap off easily and are brown or black inside, broken, or are damaged by insects.

If you start on young trees or shrubs in order to direct growth, annual maintenance will be simplified for both of you.

Over grown shrubs and trees can be sensibly pruned, promoting more flowers and fruit, while warding off pest and disease.

Now is a good time to mention that pruning anything “larger than life” or too big to reach easily — call a professional.

Pruning in winter is chosen for it is the dormant season and invigorates many trees and shrubs enhancing their root and energy reserves that will support new growth on remaining branches that you can now see clearly.

Shrubs — that can be pruned until the sap starts flowing again are: Barberries, Glossy Abelia, Camellias (after blooming), European Hornbean, Euonymous, Mallow, and Hydrangeas.

Trees — Bradford and Callory Pears, Crabapple, Poplar, Spruce, Junipers, Sumac’s, Bald Cypress, Cherries, Plums and Honey Locust.

Do not prune during winter; Maples, Birches, Dogwoods, Walnuts, Elms.

Look carefully at your intended cutting area, and notice the branch collar – the furrow of bark where branch and trunk meet. Cut at an angle next to the branch collar.

If you did it right, a circle of healthy callus will swell around the spot.

Cut large branches in three parts, the first about 1/3 of branch to reduce the weight. Undercut the remaining stub so the trunk bark won’t rip when the stub falls free.

Last, make the final cut from the top, beside the branch collar. Do not leave stubs as they invite insects and disease.

I’m a believer in cutting (pruning) so that the natural shape prevails, growing joyfully with healthy branches.

Haven’t you seen a Weeping Yupon that hasn’t shed a tear in years? Do you know anyone that has murdered a Crepe Myrtle?

That is when the lovely Myrtles have been sawed off and left to struggle to regain their composure. Don’t do it. They will be glad you didn’t.