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Pruning Shrubs
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement

Pruning is an important step in managing the health and safety of your plants. Pruning helps to stimulate growth in plants and it also concentrates on their shape and form. The idea is to remove diseased, insect-ridden, dying, interfering and weak growth all while paying attention to the plants response. The idea is not to butcher the shrub, but to improve its health.

It is important to pay attention to growth habits when pruning shrubs. Shrubs can have three different growth habits, including mounding, cane, or tree-like. Shrubs with mounding habits have stems that are flexible and soft and their leaves are small. Shrubs with cane habits erect new branches from their base called canes. Tree-like growth habits have branches that are woodier and more finely divided. Each growth habit requires a unique means to pruning.

Proper pruning can result in higher fruit quality in fruit trees, better flowering, healthier foliage, and a more attractive appearance. To ensure proper pruning, the most important thing to remember is correct “timing.” The preferred time for pruning is just before bud break in early spring. However, there are a few plants, such as evergreens, that will need more time to bloom.

Pruning Schedule:

Shrubs that can be pruned immediately after they finish blooming:

o Azaleas
o Forsythias
o Lilacs
o Juneberries
o Spirea

Shrubs that should be pruned before growth starts in the spring or after blooming:

o Mock orange
o Potentillas
o Roses
o Weigela

Shrubs that should be pruned before the growing season begins:

o Most clematis
o Annabelle
o Peegee hydrangeas
o Anthony waterer spirea
o Rose of sharon
o Buddelia

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