It’s that time of the year

I have a friend who seemingly asks me the same questions this
time of year. Namely, it revolves around how to prune roses. I
can’t really blame him. You see,

pruning

can strike fear in the hearts of many home gardeners. After all,
you pay a bundle to landscape your garden, and you may feel
squeamish about cutting off those high-dollar shoots and
branches.
I have a friend who seemingly asks me the same questions this time of year. Namely, it revolves around how to prune roses. I can’t really blame him. You see, “pruning” can strike fear in the hearts of many home gardeners. After all, you pay a bundle to landscape your garden, and you may feel squeamish about cutting off those high-dollar shoots and branches.

Yet, gardeners who’ve been around the block with their lopping shears know that correct pruning will result in a better looking tree/shrub, more flowers/leaves and, possibly most importantly, a healthier specimen. Of course, pruning is also used to keep your garden from resembling a jungle. Plants, particularly trees and hedges, have a tendency to take over your yard (and your neighbor’s) if not pruned regularly.

Prime time for pruning is winter, particularly for deciduous plants and trees (ones that lose their leaves). And for us, January is the ideal time to prune. Actually, you can prune anytime plants are dormant. In our area, this means you still have all of January and February to get this chore completed. Please note, though, that evergreen plants (those that retain their leaves year-round) can be pruned any time of the year whenever you deem it necessary. The only exceptions are spring-blooming trees and shrubs, which should be pruned as soon as possible after they’ve finished blooming. These exceptions include plants such as lilac, dogwood, redbud, viburnum, forsythia, spirea and flowering crabapples.

When pruning, don’t be timid. With the exception of topping or scalping, pruned specimens will have an amazing resiliency to bounce back. In fact, pruning actually stimulates growth.

There are two basic types of pruning cuts: thinning and heading. Thinning removes branches where they start or are attached. They open the interior of the plant to light and air, which helps reduce pests and disease. Heading reduces the height of the plant and helps to keep its natural form. It also stimulates growth of buds closest to the cut. The direction in which the closest remaining bud is pointing will determine the direction of new growth.

For common landscape plants such as roses, simply head plants back to two or three feet, and then remove any criss-crossing branches in the middle to promote sunlight and air circulation.

Of course, from the looks of the unpruned plants, trees and hedges I’ve seen in my travels, some gardens are even going without basic pruning. I mean, when tree branches are touching the ground and you have to walk around them, why not prune?

So get out the pruners and lopping shears. Do yourself and your neighbors a favor by pruning those unkempt specimens.

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