FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 10, 2014
I am hoping for some warmer weather so I can do some winter pruning. Winter is a perfect time to prune most trees and shrubs.
Correct pruning is an essential maintenance practice for ornamental
trees and shrubs. However, most homeowners regard pruning with
considerable apprehension. Pruning is not difficult if you understand
the basics and learn why, when, and how to prune.
There are many reasons why we prune landscape plants. In early stages
we often prune to develop a desired form. In later years, pruning
maintains form and stimulates growth. Many homeowners prune too much
simply because they selected the wrong plant for the site. If you want a
round shrub, plant a round shrub. Similarly, use a short plant or a
narrow plant if space is limited.
My winter pruning plans include renovating several shrubs that have
gotten a bit scraggly looking. I need to remove old stems from lilacs,
dogwoods, and honeysuckle as well as thin some trees with crossing
When to prune is simple. Prune when the saw is sharp! The only real
exception to that are oaks, which must be pruned in winter to avoid
Flowering shrubs need pruned at certain times to assure good flower
display. It won't hurt them to prune at other times; you simply won't
get flowers that year. As a rule of thumb we prune early flowering
shrubs (such as lilac) after they flower since they formed their flower
buds last fall on old wood. Shrubs, such as roses and hydrangea, form
flower buds on new wood after growth begins in spring and thus can be
Explaining how to prune is a bit more complicated. I often start by
removing stems with the 3 D's: dead, damaged, or diseased. After that I
look for watersprouts, suckers, crossing limbs, and girdling roots.
Ideally, create branch angles on trees greater than 90 degrees for
Most importantly, DO NOT LEAVE STUBS. Always make pruning cuts all
the way back to a bud or branch. This means not topping trees, which
creates a much weaker tree that is susceptible to breakage from wind,
ice, and snow. Many people top weak wooded trees, hoping it will make
their homes safer. A better solution is to do proper, selective pruning
or better yet to plant slower growing, stronger trees to start with.
Bundle up and go prune!
Source: Rhonda J. Ferree, Extension Educator, Horticulture, email@example.com