Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > April 2013 > GARDEN TALK with DOUG - Pruning 101

GARDEN TALK with DOUG - Pruning 101

Learning good pruning techniques is a huge topic to undertake but one that is most misunderstood. One strong advice that I can share is to stay calm when deciding to prune. Don’t let pruning be intimidating. Learning to prune effectively requires practice. Step back and analyze the shrub or tree that you are planning to prune. Try to visualize each cut and what pruning will do to the look of the plant.


 It is now April and pruning is a question that I am asked on a daily basis. Some of the questions are: when do I prune my roses, when can I prune my azaleas, when do I prune my hydrangeas, or is now the time to prune my gardenias? So, I am going to cover some of the basic knowledge on pruning.


Knowing when, where and how to prune a shrub or tree can make a difference in both the health of the plant and the look of your landscape. Pruning is essential for attractive, healthy shrubs and trees and improves the quality of flowers, fruit, and foliage. Proper pruning should enhance dthe natural shape rather than change the overall appearance.


Identifying which plants bloom on “new” wood and which on “old” is very important information to know before setting out to do any pruning. For example, the time to prune azaleas is after they have finished blooming. Azaleas form flower buds mid-summer. And, our beloved blue hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) bloom off of one year old wood. So, pruning hydrangeas hard this time of year will cut off buds for this year.


Virginia Tech has developed a shrub pruning calendar which is very helpful in determining the correct timetable for pruning various shrubs. I refer to this handout all the time when assuring customers that I am giving them correct information. We include a copy of this handout in our free information stand. So, be sure to pick up a copy on your next visit.


The best way to avoid difficult pruning jobs and reduce the maintenance on your landscape is to plan ahead. It is important to know your plant and its growing characteristics. Select plants that will fit the space and keep in mind the ultimate size. Not knowing the plants’ growing habits is one of the biggest landscape mistakes made by homeowners.  And this mistake leads to massive pruning which will disfigure the plant and ruin a plants health.


Most plants respond best to selective pruning - a combination of thinning and topping. This is healthier for the plant and gives a more natural appearance. Plants pruned the proper way retain their natural shape. Light and air circulation through the plant will allow it to develop full foliage and not just tufts of green at the tips of branches and stems.


I hope I have given you some basic thoughts about pruning without being to in depth. Later this spring I will continue with Pruning 202 that will go into greater detail on pruning. Happy Spring to everyone.

Posted: 4/11/2013 by Doug Hensel | with 2 comment(s)
Filed under: DougHensel, GardenTalkWithDoug
Ellen kuriata
Okay I'm waiting for pruning 202
3/19/2015 4:32:10 PM

A.A. Wwijeunga
I like to know when to prune my rose plants.
3/19/2015 12:41:56 PM

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