Yesterday, as I sat listening to the sermon in church, the minister talked about "pruning the vine". He was of course, not talking about pruning "literally" but rather in the biblical sense. Being me, my mind began naturally to wander to pruning in MY garden. The minister talked about how he (as a person) had NO interest really in gardening and if he did, he wouldn't have the slightest clue about how to PRUNE! I'll bet a lot of you, my readers, suffer from similar apprehensions. So, let's deal with your "real" garden, with it's "real" needs where PRUNING is concerned. If you want to check out a file that tells you all you'll ever need to know about pruning click the above link. If you want something simpler, read on!
For instance, why even prune?
- To make your garden, shrubs and trees look the way YOU want them to look!
- To keep that plant healthy
- To control rampant or unattractive growth
- To improve the quality of flowers and fruit
There are some VERY basic things you need to remember before you even think about picking up those pruning shears, loppers or pruning saw.
- Are those tools CLEAN? It doesn't hurt to dip the cutting surfaces in some alcohol or common household bleach to get rid of any "nasties" lurking there.
- What plants are you thinking about pruning? If it is a spring blooming shrub like a lilac, rhodendron, azalea, etc. WAIT until it's done blooming! Why cut off those pretty flowers??? You can certainly cut them for bringing into the house and enjoying them, but don't prune until the shrub is done pleasing your eyes and nose.
- If it blooms at the END of the season, like late summer or autumn, it's OK to prune as early in the spring as possible. The reason for this is that early blooming shrubs bloom on last years growth, and you don't want to remove that growth before it has an opportunity to bloom. Late bloomers usually bloom on THIS years growth. So by pruning (very) early you'll encourage new growth and lots of bloom!
- OK, you're now ready to cut, right?
- Look at the shrub or small tree and remove any DEAD, DISEASED, or DYING branches.
- THEN, remove any branches that are growing into the center of the bush. The reason you remove them is that they stop the breezes from getting into the center. If the bush is crammed with leaves in the center, it is vulnerable to fungus and mold, disease and bugs. However, cutting all that stuff out, allows the plant to get some good ventilation!
- Now, cut off any branches that are growing straight UP. They are usually "water shoots" and are unfruitful. (Don't even ask why. Some things are just "understood"! Or to put it another way, I haven't got a CLUE!)
- You're almost done... but now look for branches that are rubbing against other branches. That rubbing will eventually cause an abrasion which eventually gets raw and could be very vulnerable to disease. Decide which branch looks best and cut out the other one.
- BY THE WAY-when you cut, cut where the branch joins the next largest branch, back toward the shrub/tree. DON'T make stumps! Cut close to the main branch. Make it LOOK good!
- When you're done with all this, stand back and see how the shrub looks. This is the time when you can attempt to make it look the way YOU want it to look; the way it is most attractive in your garden and it's surroundings. Then just cut out the branches you don't want. Again, don't leave stumps and CERTAINLY DON'T TEAR ANYTHING. The cut should be as clean, and sharp, as possible.
This doesn't cover EVERYTHING, but it's enough to get you started. If you have a questions, make a comment below and I'll attempt to answer it, or find out where you can get the information.
Remember that link I had above? Here it is again so you can get more information if you need it!
By the way, remember the disinterested minister? I did give him a few basic clues about pruning after church. He laughed and said he'd give me a call if he needed something done in his little parsonage garden! I guess I haven't converted him to gardening. :-)