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Pruning Simplified

Pam Walatka

Winter is a good time to prune roses and fruit trees.

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WHO?

You can do this. It is fun.

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

  1. Clippers, hand-size tool used to cut small branches and stems.
  2. Loppers, long-handled clippers that enable you to reach higher, and cut bigger limbs. /
  3. Hand pruning saw (not shown). Handle just long enough to grasp. Curved blade with big teeth. Look for the word Pruning on the lable.

  4. Ladder, for fruit trees. Be careful; make sure your ladder is always sitting solidly, not wobbly.
  5. Pole saw, for fruit trees. Optional.
  6. Pole chain saw. These are new. Very handy, but highly optional. Be careful! /

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WHEN

Prune when plants are dormant, in the winter. New Years Eve is the best day to start pruning.

WHY PRUNE?

Pruning encourages better flowers, more fruit, and healthier plants and trees.

HOW

  • Always cut where a stem meets a bigger stem, or right above a bud. /
  • First cut out all dead branches.
  • Then look for branches that cross each other. Cut off one of them, at the base of the branch.
  • Thin out any area that looks crowded.
  • In general, work toward creating a vase-shape: somewhat open in the middle to let in sunshine.

  • When pruning roses, look for an outward-facing bud, and cut right above that bud. That will result in an outward-growing branch. Learn to recognize the small red swelling that indicates a bud is coming.
  • Take off some height. Many gardeners like to cut off the top quarter or third. With fruit trees, trim down branches that are growing too tall for easy harvesting. But if your fruit tree needs to be tall to reach more sunlight, let it be tall.

  • Some trees have special pruning needs. For example, apricots only produce fruit on last-year's new growth. If you cut off all new growth, you will get zero apricots. But if you leave on all the new growth, your tree might get spindly and weak. You need to notice what growth is new (different color) and cut off half of it.
    You might want to do a little research on your particular tree, or ask an elderly neighbor to show you what they do with that kind of tree.

  • Avoid becoming obsessed with proper pruning. Just lop stuff off and get on with it. Enjoy.
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Happy Gardening!


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