Each year as winter rolls around, the minds of avid gardeners turn to pruning. It can be worrisome but never fear! Botched pruning jobs will grow back and you will have learned a lesson in the process. There are a few tips every gardener should know to get the job done right and to thoroughly prepare his or her garden for the winter season.
What to Prune
Fruit trees benefit from a good pruning in late winter. Pruning fruit trees promotes faster and stronger blooms and growth as well as larger, better tasting fruit. Fruit trees produce new flowers from last season’s growth so pruning when they are dormant is important. Not all fruit trees should be pruned the same way however, so make sure to do some research before you begin.
Roses are another plant that flourishes with late winter pruning. Most types of roses require pruning just before leaf buds break open which is usually around the time winter protection comes off.
Hydrangea paniculata and other types of Hydrangea bloom from new wood. Pruning them back also heavily promotes growth and flower buds. They should be pruned to a height of one to three feet.
Flowering trees such as Rose of Sharon, Crape Myrtles and Vitex should be pruned in late winter to encourage a strong spring growth.
When to Winter Prune
Winter pruning is done in late winter. The exact days will depend on what zone you live in. It will be somewhere close to February. Pruning should occur when the spring thaw is around one month away and all danger of severe cold is passed.
Tools for Winter Pruning
You’ll find the best results occur when you prune with sharp and clean tools made especially for pruning your type of plants. A pair of bypass pruners is important if you are pruning plants with small stems such as roses, azaleas or some type of shrub or perennials. Loppers are also important, especially if leverage and larger limbs are in play. They crush more than cut, which damages live wood, so it’s best to use these on dead limbs. Saws are also important for larger trees and shrubs. They can be used to cut live limbs and can be purchased in various sizes for a fine or rough cut. The finer the cut, the less time it takes a plant to heal. It also helps to have a sharp pocket knife on-hand when pruning. They are great for small cuts and overbearing vines.
What NOT to Prune in Winter
Some plants should be pruned in summer or late in spring. Gardenias are flowers that should be pruned as soon as they bloom to keep growth encouraged. Bleeding trees like dogwoods, elms, maples, and birch trees that leak sap in winter months make a huge mess if pruned in the winter. It doesn’t hurt the tree, but it can sure leave an eyesore in your garden.
Value of Timely Pruning
Pruning in the late winter months as suggested instead of procrastinating until warmer weather ensures that your plants and trees have the best possible chance to grow and bloom as big and beautiful as possible. Plan ahead to make sure you get the job done quickly and efficiently.