Pruning is not just cutting back your plants: it encourages growth and keeps your plants healthy. Some plants benefit from pruning in winter; others right after flowering. Pruning woody plants keeps pests at bay by removing dead wood that attracts them. Before your grab the pruning shears, check out these tips to keep your plants in tip top shape.
1. Stay Sharp
It’s easier to prune with a sharp blade than a dull one, and a cleaner cut heals faster and more efficiently than one made with a dull blade. Use the right tool for the job. If stems are a half inch or less in diameter, use pruning shears. If stems are up to one and a half inches, use a long handled lopper. For even thicker wood, use a pruning saw that has special teeth that do not become clogged by green wood.
2. Cut at an Angle
Be sure to cut woody stems at an angle, just past the bud. If you leave too much stem past the bud, the wood will die and invite pests.
3. Pinch an Inch
For leafy plants that may be growing tall or long, you can pinch back the stem just above the leaves and encourage them to fill in and grow more fully. Or, if space is constrained, this will help the plant use its energy to grow more leaves and not more height. For best technique, use your fingers or scissors to pinch off the tender, new growth at the end of the stem. For herbs, this will encourage the plant to grow more leaves of the herb.
4. Prune by Season
Some plants, like evergreen shrubs and flowering shrubs, need to be pruned in late spring; flowers generally can wait until fall. Plan your pruning schedule by checking out various plants’ needs here.
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