Pruning keeps plants healthy by cutting off overgrowth, damage and disease. It opens up space within the plant or bush to allow oxygen and light in. Done correctly, it will encourage new blooms and fresh growth. It can also help shape growth for a more appealing look.
When it comes to pruning, when you cut is as important as what you cut. Depending upon the time of year and the point of the growth cycle, pruning can either encourage or discourage growth or can help your plant "winter over" safely.
Here's a basic guide on what to prune, when:
Shade Trees: Prune in late winter, during the coldest part of the year.
Fruit Trees: Prune annually near the end of winter, before first buds appear.
Summer-flowering shrubs: Prune annually mid- to late winter.
Ornamental grasses: Prune near the end of winter, before new spring growth appears.
Roses: Trim in very late winter or very early spring, just before new growth appears.
Spring shrubs: Prune immediately after first flowering (usually March or, in colder weather areas or higher elevations, April).
Azaleas: Trim immediately after first flowering.
Berry-producing shrubs: Prune while in flower.
Spring-flowering trees: Trim ONLY as needed, immediately after flowering.
Hedges: May be trimmed during any period of growth.
Conifers and narrow-leaf evergreens: Prune in mid-summer to shape. Trim throughout the remainder of summer and fall as needed to control growth.
Perennials: Remove old flowers as they die off to encourage new growth.
Hydrangea: Prune while flowering.
It is usually NOT recommended to prune late summer through late fall, as pruning typically encourages new growth which may be injured or die off during the winter season. Enjoy, and happy pruning!
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