Q: What is Pruning; why is it necessary and when do I prune?

pruning services ottawaA:  Pruning is an important part of plant and shrub care that is performed for both aesthetic reasons and for plant health.  Pruning is the cutting away of unwanted parts of a plant for more fruitful growth and shaping.   You should prune a plant or shrub to remove crossed, damaged or diseased branches which will stress the plant. 

Pruning also improves air flow through the plant and can encourage better branch distribution which results in a healthier, more vigorous plant that is more disease tolerant.  Post-bloom pruning maximizes the blooms for the following season.  The cardinal rule of pruning is cut cleanly and leave no stubs.

When to prune depends on many variables such as the type of plant, growth habit of plant, and reasons for pruning. 

If you are not certain when and how to prune your shrubs, plants and trees it is vital you seek advice from professional horticulturists and arborists (for trees). There are many books available on pruning which illustrate how to prune and when to prune.  Trees are usually pruned while they are dormant. 

There are no absolute rules to follow and that is why the growth habit of the plant is an important consideration. Certain trees will bleed too much sap if pruned in the spring or even late winter and others if pruned in the summer or early fall may develop new soft growth that will not withstand the winter. 

With flowering shrubs you need to know whether blooms are produced on year-old growth or on new growth.  Early spring pruning stimulates growth for shrubs that will bloom on the new shoots but pruning after flowering is best for shrubs like forsythia that bloom on year-old wood.

When to prune a shrub depends on whether it is a spring flowering or summer/fall flowering shrub.  Spring flowering shrubs produce blooms on wood grown the previous season and should be pruned after blooming to allow new growth of wood for next season’s blooms. 

Summer and fall flowering shrubs bloom on wood grown during the current season and thus should be pruned in early spring prior to growth. Anytime is a good time to prune away dead growth, broken or diseased limbs, and suckers as undesired growth drains energy from the plant. To thicken the growth of conifers such as fir, balsam, spruce and pine trees shear the center tips or candles of the top and side branches during the early summer.

The softer-foliaged evergreens such as yews and junipers are adapted to shearing to a smooth surface and various forms.

Cedar hedge pruning makes the hedge grow thicker and broader and should be pruned in early and late summer.  Pruning a cedar hedge too late in the fall is apt to stimulate new tender growth that is susceptible to winterkill.  The base of the hedge should always be pruned wider than the top so that the lower branches get plenty of light, retain their foliage, and do not get straggly. 

Roses are pruned to increase new growth, renew vigor and to control old growth. The various varieties call for different pruning treatments. Again it is very important you have the correct advice for pruning your type of roses.  Generally Hybrid Tea roses are spring pruning and light fall pruning;  Floribundas prune lightly late fall; and Rugosa roses late fall or early spring.

Harmony Gardens Landscaping Inc. can provide professional pruning services for all your pruning needs. Request a quote today!