There are many facades that murk the concept of pruning. One being the type of pruner to use.
This has caused great anxiety and hesitations in most people to trim their plants, with many opting to altogether avoid the exercise.
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This is largely attributed to the misconception that pruning ‘hurts’ the plant and may cripple and stunt growth of the tree.
Contrary to this, pruning has been scientifically proven to be of great necessity in a plant’s life cycle and its benefits far outweigh any possible shortcomings of the same.
Advantage of pruning your plants well
Pruning is the delicate and tactful removal of parts of a tree or plant to stimulate better growth and productivity. Common parts that are removed include branches, buds or terminal leaves or fruit clusters, depending on the need and growth of the plant.
Some of the benefits of Pruning are:
- Promotes faster and healthy growth of the plant
Trimming new growth allows the plant to have a stronger regrowth response if done correctly; this boosts the further development and health of the tree in the long run.
- Boosts fruitfulness and flowering
Removal of terminal buds which promote high oxen –levels within the plant, enable the plant to bud and sprout more. This leads to overall increased fruit and flower production.
- Maintains proper size and weight of the plant
Pruning helps reduce the size of a plant and maintain it at a reasonable height. This helps manage the size of the plant, preventing any overgrowth.
- Increases light penetration
Removal of excess branches leaves or clusters of fruit allow light to easily penetrate all through the plant without obstruction. This boosts photosynthesis and plant productivity.
- Increases Air circulation
Removal of excess or over grown plant parts also boosts air circulation within the plant, as congestion is minimized.
- Minimizes and curbs spread of plant disease and infection
Pruning any dead or diseased parts of the plant helps avoid further infection of the plant. Also, if part of the plant is infested by pests, removing that part will help prevent any spread and preserve the rest of the plant.
- Facilitates longevity of the plant
The overall effect of pruning is that it boosts the well-being of the plant. All dangers posed by overgrowth, congestion, infection are mitigated leading to a healthy productive plant.
- Promotes aesthetic beauty of the plant
Pruning helps to increase the visual appeal of any plant. The shape of the plant can be altered to meet the desire of the owner. Plants on the front porch are primary suited for aesthetic purposes and are constantly pruned to achieve the same. And with a well pruned porch it’ll improve your overall home beauty.
When is it the right time to prune?
A determinative factor of when pruning should take place is by observing the time when the tree will bloom. Pruning should be done just before new buds emerge. This is just before its bloom cycle.
Before blooming most trees undergo a period of inactivity and dormancy. This is common during the winter period. Different trees have different timeframes when they bloom.
Most fruit trees bloom during early summer while others during spring. Therefore, the most favorable time to prune such trees is when it is late winter or in the early stages of spring respectively.
As for flowering trees, a prune would be necessary immediately after they finished flowering. This is mostly during spring time. Plants should never be pruned when they are active.
This is because they will tend to release a lot of sap and drain away all important nutrients in the process. This will leave them vulnerable to any attack from pests or any severe environmental conditions.
How to prune the right way
Pruning is not an up-hazard enterprise and requires prior planning and preparation.
- Prep phase
This entails the acquisition of proper garden tools and gears for the job. Pruning is predominantly done with simple gardening tools such as shears. The size of the pair of shears is dependent on the size of the plant to be pruned.
Common backyard plants and shrubs would typically require a simple set. However, for larger and more developed trees, one could use a larger pair of shears, a hand saw or even a chain saw.
The tools must be sharp and disinfected, just the same way you handle a knife. Common household disinfectors, such as Hydrogen peroxide of a 3-6% concentration can serve the purpose.
Use some cotton wool to rub the disinfectant generously on the blade of the shears and you’ll be ready to go.
Gloves should be worn in order to minimize any friction or abrasive contact with your skin. Blistering may be sustained from prolonged use of the pruning tools. In pruning larger and stronger trees, gloves are an absolute necessity.
- Pruning phase
In this phase, the actual pruning begins. Using the necessary tool, trim or snip at an inclined angle of 45 degrees. The primary reason for the inclined degree of cutting is to allow the sap from the cut part to drip off of the plant.
Where the sap is allowed to drip off, the plant stands a better and faster chance to heal and grow. On the other hand, a flat cut allows the sap to ‘sit’ on the surface of the cut.
This promotes easy infection and infestation on the cut surface that may be translated to the adjacent parts if the sap accumulation persists. Also, a flat cut reduces the chances of fast healing and growth of the part.
Tips on correct pruning
If you’re not sure on what to prune, here is a list that may guide you.
- Remove any low-hanging fruit.
- Remove any sucker growth
- Remove any dead flowers, branches or spoilt fruit
- Remove any crossing branches
- Remove any long and ‘running’ branches
- Reduce the plant’s height to one that is manageable.
What are the different types of pruning?
While pruning one should be knowledgeable of the aim of the prune. Different types of pruning serve different ends and an individual should be able to make an informed choice on which type is most suitable for their plant.
There are two major types of pruning namely: Hard pruning and soft pruning.
- Hard Pruning
This is a more drastic type of pruning and thus occurs less consistently in the plant’s life cycle. Here most branches and stems are cut off from the plant. In some instances, nearly 50% of the plant is snipped or trimmed off.
Due to the intensity of the trim, it only takes place when the plant is dormant. The purpose of this prune is to promote an all new growth for the next productive phase of the plant.
It is also known as annual pruning as it predominantly occurs once a year or just before the plant’s most productive season.
- Soft Pruning
This is a more mild and frequent type of pruning style that occurs any time of the year. It entails quick small snips on parts of the plant, to arrive at an intended result- whether it is shaping the plant or removal of dead or crossed parts of the plant.
The more common purpose of this style of pruning is to harness the plant’s energy and channel it to development of new shoots, leaves, branches or increase flowering. In both of the pruning types adopted, there are a further 3 pruning cuts that can be adopted.
Here are other types of pruning cuts:
This pruning cut entails cutting back a stem or branch to promote stronger regrowth. This cut is also employed in the removal of dead flower or fruit heads from the plant.
This cutting style enables one to adequately shape their plant as the necessary parts are snipped in a manner to promote re-growth in a particular direction or angle.
This cut involves the removal of a whole branch from the main stem or trunk of the tree. It occurs at the collar of the branch where the branch connects to the main stem. This cut opens up the plant for light penetration and greater air circulation as all obstructing and crossing branches are removed.
This cut does not promote a strong regrowth response at the same spot of the tree; however, it is useful in reducing the size of the plant while maintaining its natural shape or form.
This is the removal of the very tip of the plant which is commonly referred to as the terminal bud. This is common in very young plants and can be done with one’s fingers as opposed to a pair of shears.
Pinching reduces the oxen level flowing from the tip of the plant. Oxen is a hormone that prevents buds from growing out and is usually produced by the terminal bud.
Removal of this tip significantly reduces the hormone in the plant and allows all buds on the stem to grow out. This cut produces a fuller and rounded plant.
There are numerous benefits that pruning has on a plant’s life cycle such as vibrant healthy growth, longevity and increased fruitfulness. However, poor pruning may promote plant infection and even stunt productivity which is similar in effect with non-pruning.
It is therefore advisable to be knowledgeable on what, when and how to prune in order to secure worthwhile results.