Pruning Tips for Spring
Spring is just around the corner, which means that now is a good time to start thinking about pruning your trees and shrubs. Well-maintained trees and shrubs don’t just look better, they’re also healthier. Pruning helps plants maintain their shape, encourages new growth, and helps prevent pests and diseases. We’ve got some tips in order to help you to time your pruning based on what’s right for each of your trees and shrubs.
Recent research has shown that the optimum time to prune living branches on trees is late spring and early summer. Pruning at this time helps trees to quickly seal off wounds, because tree cells are most active during the growing season. Pruning outside of this timeframe can still be accomplished with little risk to plants, and should always be done as quickly as possible to repair tree damage that occurs during a wind or ice storm. The only exception to these tips is for oak trees, which are best pruned in December, January or February, as this helps to avoid potential infection with oak wilt.
The correct time to prune your shrubs depends on their variety. Summer-flowering shrubs, such as spirea, potentilla, and smoke bush, should be pruned during dormancy, typically late February to March. Spring-flowering shrubs, such as forsythia, weigela, mock orange, lilacs, and viburnums, should be pruned when they are finished blooming.
Fruit tree pruning is often neglected either due to a lack of pruning skills and knowledge, or a fear that the tree will be damaged or killed by incorrect pruning. But productive fruit trees that have an abundance of high quality fruit do not just happen by chance. They are the result of good cultural practices, including proper pruning.
Most fruit tree pruning is best done during the dormant season when no leaves are on the tree. For most fruit trees, late February through March is the best time to prune. Tree species that are susceptible to winter injury, such as peach and apricot, are best pruned in late spring before growth begins. Regardless of the cultivar, do not prune any tree before January or winter injury can occur.
Fruit trees may also be safely pruned outside of their dormant period. Trees may be prune at planting, during July and early August to restrict growth, to remove water sprouts, or to remove diseased or damaged wood. Once the basic structure of your fruit tree is developed, you should avoid pruning until fruiting occurs.
We hope these tips have helped to clear up any confusion you may have had about tree and shrub pruning. If you’re ever in doubt about pruning, or would like to have a professional tackle the task for you, give us a call to set up an appointment today!