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How to Prune

Do's and Don'ts of Pruning



Select the proper tool for the job.

Make one cut to remove large limbs.

Know the proper time to prune your plants.

Underestimate the importance of pruning for your plant's health and apperance.

Make your cuts at an angle to prevent water buildup.

Forget the proper place and angle to make your cuts when you prune.

When Should You Prune?

The best time to prune varies with each plant species. Plants that flower during the spring normally are pruned after they bloom. If you were to prune before bloom you would remove the flower buds. Summer-blooming plants are generally pruned during the winter when they are dormant. Pruning should not be done in the late summer or fall because the re-growth makes them more susceptible to damage from the cold.

For non-flowering plants, the best time to prune may be in the winter dormant period. Removal of dead, diseased or damaged branches should be done as soon as possible, no matter what time of year. Pruning should be done year-round as needed.

What Is the Proper Cut?

For smaller branches: Select the branch to be pruned and cut it back to ½" above an outer bud or to the collar area of a branch about half the size of the main branch that connects a 45° angle. Your cuts should be slanted upward at about 45° to prevent water from collecting in the cut.
All cuts should be clean and smooth without leaving stubs or removing bark. In most cases, you should cut back each stem to a bud or branch. Do not make the cut too close or too far away because most new growth will come from this area.
For larger branches: Use a three-part cut. Make the first shallow cut from below, about 6–12" out from the trunk. Make the second cut from above, about 3 inches beyond the first cut, down the branch or toward the tip, until the branch falls away. This will leave a short limb on the trunk. Cut the remaining limb at a 45° angle so the bark collar remains intact.