Pruning plants can be a tedious task. It is not only important to know why you are pruning your plants but it is more important to know how to prune your plants. It is a skill set that every gardener should know and proper pruning techniques can make for a healthy and beautiful garden. Pruning not only encourages new growth but it helps maintain your plants size. For flowering plants it will help encourage new blooms to set. The first step to pruning is proper identification of your plants!
Sharp, clean tools are always beneficial when pruning your plants. Make sure you have a pair of hand pruners for perennials, soft tissue growth and stems under 1/2″ thick. A pair of loppers will come in handy if you have to make cuts up to 1″ thick. Another great tool to have is a hand saw. This will help with any larger branches you may need to remove.
Flowering Shrubs and Trees:
The general rule of thumb for spring flowering shrubs and trees is to prune right after flowers fade (typically in late spring). If you have a summer flowering shrub of tree you will want to prune late winter or late fall when the plant is dormant. Some plants like hydrangeas (mophead varieties) bloom on new and old wood so you may want to wait until your plant leafs out completely to prune out any old branches and prune as flowers fade, allowing for new buds to set for the following year. Perennials like clematis might be spring or summer flowering. Make sure you know which clematis you have before you prune back the vines or you may end up with very little flowering.
Evergreen shrubs do not typically need pruned. They actually prefer to grow on their own. Make sure to plant evergreen trees and shrubs where they have room to grow and plant dwarf varieties as necessary to fit your space. If you do need to prune however, all evergreens prefer to be pruned before new growth flushes out. Pine trees however prefer to be pruned when dormant in late winter.
Most perennials can be pruned any time to help maintain shape, size and re-flowering. Plants such as aster and chrysanthemums flower late in the summer so pinching buds throughout the season will help produce a more compact plant once flowers set. Perennials like nepeta (catmint) and agastache (hysopp) flower spring through fall. Pruning off flowers will help rejuvenate the plant and produce more flowers throughout the season.