Pruning is quite similar to trimming and is defined as the removal of parts of a tree. The parts could be buds, branches and roots. The main reasons for pruning are removal of dead wood, giving a shape to the tree, health improvement of the tree, reducing the risk of falling branches, creating nursery samples and also increasing the flower and fruit quality. A good professional does this by removing diseased, dead, un-productive, out of shape or an unwanted branch from the tree. Pruning methods are different for different types of perennial plants. For instance, hedge plants are pruned through hedge trimming instead of pruning.
There are several garden tools and tree designing tools that are used by the gardeners for pruning such as chainsaws, hand pruners, loppers and many others. Some natural tools for pruning are ice, snow and wind. Salt pruning is also a method of pruning which causes the plants to prune themselves. This is also known as abscission.
The general idea of pruning is that if you cut a small part of the plant’s branch, then it will heal faster. This also limits the growth of any infection on the plant. It also avoids decaying of the plant. It is therefore preferred to make any structural pruning cuts to younger plants, when possible, instead of removing large limbs from mature plants.
Reasons for Pruning
- Train the plant
- Maintain plant health
- Improve the quality of flowers, fruit, foliage or stems
- Restrict growth
When to Prune
Coniferous plants can be pruned any time of the year except the dormant season when pruning might lessen the sap flow and also the resin flow. Hardwood trees and shrubs can be pruned in the dormant season as it is easy to visualize the structure for the tree. Furthermore, you can increase the speed of “wound closure” in the growing season after pruning and reduce the chances of infection by fungus or insects. The smell coming out of the “wounds” can attract insects such as wood attracts bark beetles that can cause Dutch Elm Disease Fungus. Thus, these trees must be pruned at the right time of the year to avoid such situations.
Flowering trees and shrubs should be pruned during the dormant season for the similar reasons explained above; however, to preserve the current year’s flower crop, pruning should be done according to the following schedule:
- Early spring flowering trees and shrubs like Redbud, Dogwood, etc. should be pruned right after flowering.
- Many flowering trees are susceptible to Fire Blight, a bacterial disease that can be spread by pruning. These trees, including many varieties of Crabapple, Hawthorn, Pear, Mountain Ash, Flowering Quince and Pyracantha, should be pruned during the dormant season.
- Summer season flowering trees and shrubs should be pruned during the dormant season.