When it comes to successful gardening, you can’t ignore the importance of plant maintenance. The objective of plant maintenance is to ensure the growing conditions of your plants are ideal. If they aren’t, the goal is to take the necessary steps to help achieve the environment in which your plants thrive and flourish.
If you are new to gardening or are interested in pursuing it, you will come across the term “pruning” sooner or later. Pruning is a crucial aspect of DIY plant growth and maintenance. It improves plant health and quality, restricts pest infestation, and helps get rid of dead or damaged leaves, stubs, and branches. All of this leads to the healthy growth and prosperity of the plant. Before you consider pruning, let’s make one thing clear pruning is not for the weak-hearted. The task comes along with so many ifs and buts that it can easily become one of the most complex gardening practices. However, keeping the following tips in mind before embarking on your plant pruning will help ease the process.
1. Timing Is Everything
When it comes to pruning, timing is the key. You simply can’t cut back your plants at any time of the year. Some plants prefer to be clipped before flowering while some afterward, some like to be pruned in late fall, and some in spring. Some plants shed their flowers naturally, while some need to be sheared to maintain their healthy self.
Ideally, plants should be pruned during dormancy, which is usually late winter to early spring. Dormant pruning allows plants to prepare themselves for their growing season. The plant is revived with beauty with fresh leaves and flowers and new foliage.
2. Not All Parts of the Plant Need to be Pruned
Not everything needs to be pruned, especially avoid trimming fresh, healthy parts of the plant. Look for infested, dying, or already-dead leaves and branches and cut them down completely. However, the damaged or nearly-dead branches should be cut off till six inches or until the healthy wood appears. To know whether or not the wood is healthy, scratch the inside of your bark (using a gardening tool such as shears) to disclose its underlying color; if it’s green, it means the branch is healthy.
You should also trim branches that cross or tangle into other branches. In case you’re pruning to thin out an overgrown plant, start with cutting down the oldest branches at the base.
3. There are Two Types of Pruning
Pruning can be done in two popular styles: heading and thinning.
Both of these pruning types are done for different purposes. Heading is done to reinvigorate the plant’s growth. When making a heading cut, prune about 1/4th inch above the bud. Avoid cutting too closely, or else the bud will die. Heading cuts need to be made accurately to ensure vigorous regrowth.
On the other hand, thinning cuts are performed to tame large overgrown plants. In this form of cutting, branches should be snipped to the crotch of the bark.
4. Always Use Correct Tools
You can’t prune without proper tools, so make sure you are equipped with the necessary equipment pieces required for all sorts of pruning tasks.
- Bypass Pruners
These tools are best for cutting off small leaves and branches. Always use high-quality, razor-sharp pruners for a neat and clear cut.
- Lopping Shears
Unlike bypass pruners, lopping shears come with long handles. They are easier and more comfortable to handle. These long scissors can be used for trimming twigs and small leaves and branches.
Some loppers feature telescopic handles, which means they can be extended to two meters of length to easily cut hard to reach plant parts.
- Pruning Saws
These saws come with super sharp teeth that help in cutting thick woods and branches of shrubs, plants, as well as trees.
- Hedge Trimmers
As the name suggests, hedge trimmers are best for snipping hedges and shrubs. They are easy to use and handle thanks to their long blades and handles. Hedge trimmers come in both manual and electric models.
5. Water Your Plants Before Pruning
There’s no doubt that plant roots love water. They need the right amount of it for happy growth. When the soil is dry, the plant is struggling to survive. Pruning, let alone, won’t be a great idea at that time. Watering your plants in advance will nourish the plant and help revive itself instantly. Once properly watered, you can consider pruning. This will help your plant get ready for the prune and help it endure the shearing.
However, please, avoid watering too much. Soggy soil is never good for plants. Provide water depending on your plant’s watering requirements. If you’re not sure how much water you should supply to your plant, ask a professional gardener or botanist.
Pruning is an annual task that every plant owner must consider at some point. We understand that first-time gardeners may find pruning an overwhelming task. But if you follow the tips we have discussed above, you won’t find trimming as difficult. Just be extra careful when pruning your plants. Always start by cutting small and easy plants before you jump to shearing bigger and more complex ones. If you don’t feel like pruning yourself, you can always hire a professional to do the job for you!