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

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta now has 17,743 active cases of COVID-19

Province now has 17,743 active cases

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Community Christmas Eve Dinner cancelled

The 20th anniversary of the Community Christmas Eve dinner is cancelled amidst COVID-19 concerns

The consensus around the Sylvan Lake council chamber Wednesday was the town does not have the ability to properly enforce a proposed mandatory indoor mask bylaw. File Photo
Sylvan Lake town council squashes mask bylaw

The bylaw did not make it past first reading, after a 4-3 vote defeated the motion

Sylvan Lake RCMP are looking for the identity of the suspect who stole from over 40 resident mail boxes. (Photo Courtesy of Sylvan Lake RCMP)
Over 40 mailboxes broken into at Sylvan Lake apartment building

Sylvan Lake RCMP are investigating the incident and searching for the identity of the suspect

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Most Read