Pruning And Its Benefits
Over the next several weeks, reinvigorate and shape deciduous shrubs (the ones that lose their leaves every fall) while they are dormant, using several pruning techniques.
Pruning takes practice, but it’s worth the effort: In the growing season, your shrubs will display new, vigorous growth, flowering and fruiting.
Why Prune Now?
Pruning during dormancy provides many advantages: It puts less stress on the plant. Pruning cuts heal faster. Disease or damage is easier to see. Plus, there’s less chance of transmitting disease within the plant or to another plant.
Start by removing diseased, damaged or dead stems back to healthy wood. Use sharpened pruners to make an angled, clean cut just above a bud or the collar, the slight flare where the stem meets another stem. A flush cut or a jagged edge will hinder healing and invite disease.
Shaping comes next. Remove any crossing or rubbing stems, those growing in awkward directions or redundant ones that grow alongside others.
Renewal pruning helps old, overgrown shrubs create new growth from the base. Each year for three years, remove a third of the old stems at ground level.
Shearing trims a shrub to uniform height. Always shear a shrub that bears flower buds on previous year’s growth, such as forsythia, mock orange, fothergilla, oakleaf hydrangea or spicebush, after spring flowering.
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