Don't let your plants go wild. The importance of pruning

Even the healthiest plants need regular pruning. This procedure not only helps maintain their attractive appearance, but also promotes a bountiful harvest. However, if done improperly, pruning can damage your garden irreparably. 
That's why it's crucial to learn the main rules of pruning fruit trees and shrubs. Therefore, let’s start with the basics and the most important points of this procedure.

Types of pruning and what they are for

Pruning is the removal of parts of a plant. This can be branches, cones, and sometimes even roots.

There are 3 types of pruning of trees and shrubs:
  • Shaping pruning. It is aimed at giving the plant a certain shape or making it grow in a given direction. It is done from November to April if the temperature is not too low.
  • Sanitary pruning. It is aimed to help a sick plant: to get rid of diseased parts of the plant and to stimulate its further development.  It is carried out throughout the year as needed. But it is better not to do it in late summer and early autumn, and when the temperature is too low.
  • Rejuvenating pruning. It is intended to increase and improve the quality of the crop, leaves, flowers, and branches. Trees are pruned during the dormant period after leaf fall (before sap movement begins) from October through April when temperatures are at least minus 59°F (15°C).

When it is best to prune plants (general rules)

The crown of the tree is formed from the moment the seedling is planted and continues to form throughout its life cycle. Depending on climatic conditions, pruning is done in spring or fall, in some cases in summer.
  • Spring pruning. Pruning in all climates is recommended in early spring, when temperatures are 46°F (8°C) or higher. This is usually late February, early March, but can be later. In this case, it is not the timing that is important, but the air temperature. For mature plants, pruning up to May is possible. Sanitary and shaping pruning can be combined.
  • Fall pruning. If you live in a region with warm winters, fall pruning is acceptable for sanitary purposes (temperature should also be at least 46°F (8°C)).

Pruning rules for trees and shrubs

For pruning, you will need sharp and clean tools: pruning shears, pruning saws or knives. A stepladder will also help, and it is advisable to bring alcohol and a clean cloth to disinfect the tools after pruning each plant - this will help prevent contamination of healthy trees.
Note: Do not cut more than 25% of the branches, or the plant may not be able to withstand such stress.

There can be several options for pruning. And they all depend on different factors, including the type of plant. So, pruning a hedge will be different from pruning a fruit tree. But there are a number of general recommendations:
  • First of all, you need to get rid of old and diseased branches and stems.
  • Then you need to remove shoots that interfere with the growth of the plant.
  • Also, it is necessary to get rid of branches that are in contact, because this provokes the disease of the plant.
  • Prune the top of a shrub that has stunted its growth to stimulate it. But this is not suitable for all plants. At times, the plant will need to be replanted or fertilized.
  • Carefully trim the branches to shape your tree or shrub. But before making the cut, look around the plant from all sides so you don't cut too much off.
  • Always cut the branch to the growth point or growth cone, not leaving a cut in the middle of the branch or stem.

Please note

Pruning of trees and shrubs should not be carried out under adverse meteorological conditions (heavy rain, snowfall, thunderstorms, icing, fog, gusty wind, low air temperatures).
Immediately after pruning trees and shrubs, all wounds larger than 1 inch in diameter need to be painted over with oil paint on natural olive. Wounds of coniferous trees abundantly producing resin are not covered.

Proper pruning techniques are essential for maintaining healthy trees and shrubs, as well as ensuring a bountiful harvest. With the right tools and knowledge, anyone can learn how to properly prune their plants. With a little practice and patience, you'll soon become a pruning pro and enjoy the many benefits of a well-maintained garden. 
So grab your shears and get pruning!