Every gardener knows that pruning is an essential part of growing healthy plants. It’s not the easiest thing to do. In fact, depending on what you’re pruning, it could take a lot of effort or even getting pricked along the way.
In this article, we take a closer look at the art of pruning. Why it’s important to do so and how to prune plants for optimal growth. This is perfect for beginners as well as any green thumb who wants to learn the different ins and outs of pruning.
What is Pruning and Why Do You Need to Prune?
Pruning is the process of trimming off the ends of plants. This keeps trees and plants looking neat so that their branches don’t get too long. Preventing overgrowth is one way to keep plants healthy so that they can continue to grow.
Besides limiting the size of the plant, there are other important reasons to prune.
Trimming the ends of the plants allows energy that has been stored in the plants to release. This encourages further growth. In addition, it helps many flowers bloom more.
The reason this happens is because like people, plants have hormones. Among these hormones are those that control and regulate its growth. This is why some types of trees are big and others are more limited in size.
Some of these growth hormones happen to be located at the tips of the branches, leaves and shoots of plants. So, when you trim the tips, it stimulates growth to encourage the plant to grow.
Pruning plants also helps repair and restore them. This is especially true if have health issues. Most gardeners will prune a plant which is:
This helps get rid of the branches that have problems. And in doing so, reduces the stress that it experiences. More importantly, by pruning the problem areas, it allows the plant to repair itself.
This may take time, as the plant will slowly try to restore itself to health. While it won’t always be able to do so, in many cases pruning will be also to help plants that are diseased, damaged or dying to nurse themselves back to good health.
One final reason that people prune trees or plants is for safety. Sometimes, it just makes sense to trim them because they can be harmful.
This is the case for trees that grow into power lines. The same is true for plants that grow into homes or buildings. In the same way, plants that block pathways or areas where people walk or stay in also end up having to be trimmed down.
What Tools Do You Need to Prune?
The tools you’ll need to trim your trees and plants will depend on the type of plant. The bigger or thicker the branches are, the bigger the tool you’ll need. In contrast, stems of small shrubs that re thin can easily be cut by smaller tools.
At the top of the list are the chainsaws. This are strong, gas or electric devices that easily cut through thin or thicker branches. They’re perfect if you have a lot to prune or need to take care of thicker branches.
For branches up in the trees, the safest tools to use are pole pruners. These come in both manual and electrical styles.
- Manual pole pruners are your typical saw that’s attached to the end of a long pole. This means you’ll need to manually saw off the branch from the ground.
- Motorized pole pruners come in electric and gas versions. These come with motors that make it easier. They’re like small chainsaws attached to the end of a pole making pruning much easier.
- For thicker branches that are high up, you’ll need to call professionals. The pros will either use an arborist chainsaw which is lightweight. They’ll climb up the tree and cut the branches off. Then, there are also trucks that elevate you up to the trees. These are more expensive, but less risky since you’ll be able to stay in a safe compartment to cut the branches.
For branches and stems that are closer to the ground, you also have a few options.
- Folding saws are cheap and easy to use. They’re great for slightly thicker branches that hand pruners or scissors aren’t able to get through. These mini saws do quick work of branches that are up to 2 to 3 inches thick in diameter.
- Hand pruners are another option. They come in many names including pruning shears or secateurs. These look like thick scissors with a short blade at the end. They are ideal for smaller branches and much easier to handle than saws because they cut much like scissors do.
- Loppers are for thicker branches. They look like lock cutters and work much like pruning shears but with long handles. Loppers are great for areas that are harder to reach. Because of the leverage, they also require less effort to cut thicker branches compared to hand shears.
In addition to the cutting tools, there are a few other things you may need. One is a string to tie small branches together. This makes it easier to keep stems and other things you need to trim steady.
In addition, a bin to dump all the cut branches helps. This makes cleaning up easy since you’ll be cutting the stems right into the bin instead of leaving them on the lawn or garden.
How to Prune Plants?
When it comes to pruning there are a few ways to cut them. How you cut affects how the plant looks and grows. The type of cut you use will also depend on the reason you’re pruning in the first place.
- Shearing. This is straight up cutting off the ends. To do this, you’ll need a pair of pruning shears. They make this job easier because you’ll be cutting the small twigs and branches off with a scisccor-like motion Shearing is perfect if you want to keep hedges and shrubs neat and clean. They help shape the ends so the plant doesn’t get unwieldy.
- Thinning cuts. This is often done for more mature trees. Here, you’re cutting the branch off from the point of origin. This is a more extreme type of cut compared to some of the others because you’re trimming an entire branch or sometimes the trunk. The goal if thinning is to prevent new growth.
- Heading cuts. This is the opposite of thinning. The goal here is to promote new growth. To do so, you cut just above the bud. This stimulated the hormones in that region to encourage the plant to grow is branches and flowers.