When is the best time of year to prune?

When is the best time of year to prune?

When is the best time of year to prune? There is no correct answer as it depends on the plant and why it is being pruned.

Remove dead and diseased wood as soon as possible, regardless of the season.

Early blooming plants such as; Lilacs, Double Flowering Plum, Nanking Cherry, and Forsythia should be pruned as soon as they are finished flowering. Plants that bloom early set next year’s flower bud soon after their blooms fade.

If flowers are not a concern, prune when the plant is dormant as it is easier to see the plant structure and what to remove.

Tender shrubs which includes roses are easiest to prune once the first leaf buds appear making it easier to differentiate live and dead wood. Roses bloom on first year wood so do not worry about removing flowerbeds.

Prune hedges when they begin to look ragged. Likewise prune plants that are encroaching in sidewalks, windows, roads as needed.

People shy away from pruning as they worry about ruining the shape of the plant. Shrubs are very resilient plants with very few ever dying because they were pruned.

There are a few basic rules of pruning that make it less stressful for the plant. Make sure all cuts are flush with other stems, the ground or just above a bud. Doing otherwise leaves stubs which die from lack of nutrients making it harder for a plant to heal. Open wounds attract insects and diseases.

Prune when the weather is dry. Diseases tend to spread in wet, humid windy conditions.

Sterilize pruning equipment between cuts if the plant is diseased to decrease to decrease the chance of spreading the disease. Burn or double bag the diseased material immediately. Diseased material should go to the landfill not the shredding pile.

Once all the dead material is eliminated, remove all suckers or watersprouts. Suckers sprout from the roots while watersprouts can come from any place on the plant. They are shoots that grow long and straight, without any side shoots in one season. Chances are these shoots will die over winter. Watersprouts are common on shrubs that have been pruned too hard or had a lot of dieback.

Next look for branches that are crossing. Remove one of the crossing branches. Choose the one that is the least healthy or crossing more than one branch. In an old shrub, remove the older branch at the ground level, encouraging the shrub to send up new shoots in the middle of the plant.

The last step is to shape the plant to make it pleasing to the eye. When pruning, keep track of the amount of plant that is being removed. Do not remove more than a quarter of the plant in one growing season. When too many branches are removed, the plant has trouble manufacturing enough food to feed the roots which stresses that plant resulting in watershoots. The rest can be removed over a number of years.

When time permits, remove unattractive seed pods from shrubs as it allows the plant to put more energy into growth as opposed to seed. Leave all attractive berries and seeds intact as it adds to the landscape.

Roses are pruned similar to shrubs.

Using sharp tools, leaving good cuts that will heal quickly will lead to a healthier plant.

Spending a few hours pruning each year adds to the overall appearance of the yard and improves the plant’s health.

Linda Tomlinson is a local horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com.

gardening

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Red Deer has nine active COVID-19 cases

Number of cases increased by 107 Friday

“My world exploded,” says Bentley-area farmer who’s swather was struck by a motorist

Dennis Duncan was a mile from home when his swather was struck by another travelling at high speeds

Man sentenced to 7 years for gas-and-dash death of Alberta gas station owner

Ki Yun Jo was killed after Mitchell Sydlowski sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel

New owners of Sylvan Lake Canadian Tire looking to be big part of the community

Randy and Alison Patton are the new owners of Sylvan Lake Canadian Tire

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Six injured, man in custody following BB gun incident in Alberta, RCMP say

Airdrie’s downtown core was told to shelter-in-place, while others nearby were asked to stay inside

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Wetaskiwin RCMP make arrests for Hit and Run to residence

Damage estimates are expected to be in excess of $20,000.

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C., Alberta sending nearly 300 fire personnel by Friday to help battle wildfires in Oregon

Some 230 firefighters, most from British Columbia but including a number from Alberta, will be deployed Friday

Death of mother grizzly a ‘big loss’ for bear population in Banff park: experts

The bear, known as No. 143, spent most of her time in the backcountry of Banff

Most Read