Pruning takes time and care
February 7, 2013 · Updated 11:02 AM
We are now getting into pruning season.
The right time for pruning depends on the plant. For deciduous trees I like them to come out of dormancy before I make some cuts. Too many times people prune too early. This produces water sprouts. When plants go dormant in the fall they store food in the roots for next year’s grow cycle.
When you prune in the early spring before plants have had a chance to pull all their energy out in growth you get the water sprouts.People often ask me why to prune plants while they are dormant. The only thing I do in the dormant stage is dead wood.
You have to be careful with some trees like Japanese maples in the dormant stage because the sap flow is pretty low and the tree is very fragile. They break pretty easy.I wait until now to start pruning the maples. When plants get done blooming give them some love.
Never prune too much. A rule is no more than a third at a time. Never top your tree or shrub. It is very important to make the right cuts.In an earlier blog on pruning I went over the two basic cuts of pruning and the three Ds: Dead, Diseased and Dumb or growing in the wrong direction.
Heading and thinning cuts. A heading cut is making a cut to a node or bud. A thinning cut is taking out a branch to where it originates. This time of year you can easily rub a shoot off the branch before it gets too tough to do later. And remember always prune to a branch collar. The collar is that swollen part at the base of a branch.If the branch is too big, use the three cut method.
Follow the branch about a foot from the collar. Make an undercut an inch on the branch on the top of the branch go about two to three inches make a cut the weight of the branch will fall and break off at the undercut and the final cut is at the collar. Never use paints to seal the cuts. Plants have hormones that seal off cuts and heal just fine.
We are still too early in the growing season to consider planting something that will be the right plant for the space. This is my favorite time of the year. Spring is around the corner and flowers are on the way! Remember to have the right tools for the job and make sure they are sharp and always wear the right safety gear.
Happy Gardening.Gardener Joe