To Prune or Not to Prune

Whether you’re an expert gardener or a weekend warrior looking to impress your friends with your green thumb, you may not be too sure when it comes to pruning. Basically, a good rule of thumb to follow is this- don’t prune unless you know what you’re doing. If you prune incorrectly, you can damage or kill your plants. On the other hand, if you’re skilled, you can control growth, enhance flower and fruit production, repair damage and ultimately create a masterpiece. So to prune or not to prune? The answer unavoidably is a resounding “maybe”.

What is Pruning?

By some standards, pruning is part skill and part art. If done properly, pruning can significantly enhance almost any landscape. Basically, pruning involves removing parts of a plant that are no longer effective. By getting rid of inefficient parts, you increase the likelihood that the remaining plant will thrive.

While plants do not have to be pruned to survive, a good trimming frees up energy which enhances the development of flowers, fruits and anything left on the plant. There are also other reasons to prune, including landscape design, growth restriction or simply to improve the quality of flowers, fruits or stems.

The Basics of Pruning

Before pruning, assess your plant and determine why you’re pruning in the first place. Going forward with a plan in mind will help you stay focused and ensure a better result. Start by removing all dead, damaged or diseased limbs. Cut back to a healthy lateral branch and move on. Stop frequently and step back to keep from over pruning and try to follow the natural growth pattern of the plant. Remember, always make certain to use a sharp, clean pruning tool to ensure cuts are clean and free of tears.

You should plan to prune in the spring or winter before significant new growth begins. This is the time when the least amount of damage can be done from improper pruning. However, there are exceptions to this rule and you should avoid pruning if you notice new growth. For shrubs that flower in the spring, wait until the flowers begin to fade, but don’t wait too long and plan to prune before the fall. If they bloom in the summer, prune in the dormant season.

Pruning can be an important part of plant maintenance. If done correctly, it can optimize plant health and result in vibrant, healthy flowers and fruits. So will you be pruning this season? Should you decide to give it a go, make certain to stop by Uncle Luke’s Feed Store for all the quality supplies you’ll need to make your pruning project a success. Remember, the best products make the best plants and at Uncle Luke’s, we’re here to help with everything you need to get the most out of your plants-  whether you decide to prune or not.

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