Plant Care



Whether you are pruning a large, established shade tree, a small shrub, or a wayward vine, a gardener must put their thinking cap on before picking up a pruning shears.

You must first know what you are pruning, and then find out when the best time of year is to prune that specific plant. For example, blooming shrubs must be pruned depending on what time of year they bloom. Shrubs that bloom in early spring like lilacs and forsythia, are best pruned just after the flowering period. They actually set their flower buds the season before, and if you prune them off in early spring, you will lose much of the flower power for that season. Shrubs that bloom in the summer usually produce their flowers on new wood, and these shrubs CAN be pruned early in spring to shape them up.

Other circumstances dictate pruning time. Some trees like birch are susceptible to disease and insect infestation if pruned during the growing season, and should be pruned in winter. Other trees like maples have a tendency to ‘bleed’ in spring when the sap is flowing heavily, and must be pruned after the spring season.

Once you know WHEN to prune a plant, then you will need to figure out how to do it.

The age and maturity of a plant may dictate the pruning technique you use. Many trees need to be thinned out over time to form a healthy crown. Branches that overlap and rub against each other need to be thinned out. Overgrown shrubs may need some thinning as well, or just a shaping up.

When in doubt, do a bit of research. It’s easy to use a search engine on the internet to find out how to prune a specific plant. Or, talk to the expert at your neighborhood garden center – many of them are trained professionals and can give you lots of great advice on how to prune your plantings.

Last but not least, invest in some good pruning tools. A high quality pruning shears is worth its price and if taken care of properly, will last a lifetime. A lopping shears and a pruning saw are also essential tools to own when pruning woody plants.