Winter is the time to prune!

Temperatures may be below freezing and snow is still everywhere outside your window, but winter is actually a perfect time to conduct pruning of certain shrubs and trees. 

Pruning can often be a scary undertaking because you might think that you will kill the plant if you don’t do things correctly.  But in actuality, a bad pruning job, much like a bad haircut, will eventually grow out and even thought the plant might look unappealing for a while it likely won’t die.  The use of sharp tools that make a clean cut are important and the growth habit of the plant should not be overlooked.  Removing dead wood, crisscrossing branches and limiting the pruning to a third of the plant’s size are all also important items to consider. 

The most obvious reasons to prune are to reduce the size of a plant, maintain a plant’s shape or improve its overall appearance.  Pruning to remove dead and diseased wood or to thin out interior branches will also keep a plant healthy.  Plants such as roses and hydrangeas that have grown too dense will benefit from the removal of interior branches to open air circulation which helps keep diseases in check.

Several reasons why winter pruning is beneficial for particular plants. 

In late winter, many shrubs and trees are dormant and pruning at this time will invigorate the plant for abundant spring growth.  Also, by conducting this pruning now, the pruning wounds are exposed for a limited time before the growing cycle begins which decreases the chance of disease or pest introduction to the plant through the pruning wound.  Lastly, it’s a lot easier to see the interior of the plant when there are no leaves present and this can help in determining what needs to be removed.

Although winter pruning is beneficial for many of your shrubs and trees it is not good for every species that might be located on your property so it’s not advised that you grab your snow boots and pruning tools and rush out into the cold to start cutting away.   If you’d like an evaluation of your plant material to determine if some pruning would be helpful within the next month please contact us and we will gladly stop by and take a look at your plants and let you know if it would be beneficial to conduct some pruning work prior to the start of the Spring.