4 Reasons to Prune your Plants


PRUNING has been the topic of discussion around our house this spring, as we gave a presentation on pruning at the NIACC Garden Seminar. And, now is the time to think about it and do it! 

It’s a huge topic, but in the next few blog posts we are going to break it down and share some general information to help you figure it out. 

What is pruning? 

First of all, it’s good to understand what pruning is.  Pruning is the selective removal of certain parts of a plant.

What happens when you prune? 

When you prune a plant, you are creating a wound on the plant. That doesn’t mean pruning is a bad thing (it usually makes the plant healthier to prune), but keeping in mind that you are wounding the plant helps you determine when it’s a good time to prune or not. It’s also good to take care of your pruning cuts and select the right tools for the job at hand.

Plants heal their wounds by compartmentalizing or “walling off” the affected area. This healing process takes place much easier when the plant has the energy reserves to heal. 

Therefore, times when plants are expending a lot of energy (during spring when they are growing and leafing out, and during fall when they are storing nutrients in their roots and dropping leaves ARE NOT usually a good time prune. 

A general rule of thumb for most plants is late winter/early spring(February, March, and early April).

4 reasons to prune your plants: 

  1. Prune to promote plant health. If your plants have dead, dying, or rubbing branches, it’s good to remove them so they do not hinder the plants growth. It is also important to remove diseased or insect damaged parts of the plants. Do not wait until a good time to prune, remove these parts of the plants immediately. Pruning can promote growth in shrubs and trees, and even bring old neglected shrubs back to life!

  2. Prune to maintain the intended purpose of the plant. If you planted a row of boxwoods as a hedge, you most likely will want to prune those bushes to keep the hedge shape. Pruning also improves flower and fruit development to increase yield. It’s important to prune young shade trees in the first several years of their lives to improve their structural integrity as they mature. 

  3. Prune for plant appearance. Pruning can increase the aesthetics of a particular plant. Most of the time, the natural form is best and if you pick the right plant for the right location, you should be able to let the plant grow to its full potential. Take note of plant size when you are choosing your plant. 

  4. Protect People and Property. You want to prune anything that overhangs, or could be hazardous, especially branches that overhang sidewalks or could obstruct views at intersections.

As always we are here to help with any pruning questions you may have! 

In next week’s blog, we will talk about when to prune certain types of shrubs you may have in your landscape.