Although pruning shrubs may seem like an intuitive process, it’s actually a bit of an art.
With proper pruning, shrubs and bushes will not only look their best but they will also last longer while resisting pests and diseases. Although every species of plant has its own unique requirements, we can break shrubs down into some basic categories.
Pruning Shrubs with a Cane-Growing Structure
Cane-growing shrubs are those that send individual woody stems up from the ground. Some examples include forsythia, duranta, plumbago and some types of climbing roses.
Most of these plants reach maturity within three to four years. As more time passes, they can become overgrown and woody. Older canes are vulnerable to diseases and pests as well, so pruning these shrubs is a must when they become unwieldy.
Most garden professionals recommend that you allow these shrubs to maintain their natural shape, rather than forcing them into specific shapes like hedges or topiaries. Instead, remove one-fourth or one-third of the oldest canes – but not more than three stems total – as close to the ground as possible.
Pruning Shrubs with Multiple Trunks
Those plants with multiple trunks, such as crepe myrtle, are a little more tricky to trim.
Focus on maintaining an attractive shape and framework while opening up the center of the plant. Begin by removing any new trunks that may be crowding the main trunks. Next, remove low branches and any unwanted new suckers that have emerged. Trim away any weak growth next, as well as any branches that cross over older growth.
Finally, thin the crown of the shrub by removing unwanted growth and any newer branches that are growing into the realm of another. Any limbs that intersect with others can be damaged by the wind, weakening the entire structure of the plant.
The Right Gardening Tools Make Pruning Shrubs a Breeze
Having the right gardening tools at your disposal is important not only for making the job easier, but also for avoiding damage to the shrubs.
If the canes or branches are more than one inch in diameter, use a small, sharp saw. For smaller branches, use a clean pair of loppers. Or, if the canes are small (less than one-half inch in diameter), you can use your sharpest pair of hand pruners.
Ensure that your tools are cleaned before and after each shrub. This will help prevent the spread of disease between plants. Use rubbing alcohol to clean the blades, then allow the to dry thoroughly before storing them away.
Millcreek Gardens is Salt Lake City’s premier nursery, greenhouse and garden center. We have all the landscaping trees, rose bushes and flowering plants you love, as well as a full line of gardening supplies to make your life easier. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff is available to assist you with all of your questions, and to help you select the ideal plants for your landscape or garden.
Stop by and see us today for more helpful gardening tips, including the best way to prune shrubs and bushes.