It’s Time for Summer Pruning
Summertime has arrived, and hopefully you are finished planting in your garden. So what’s left to do now? As you sit back and watch your new plantings grow, it is a great time to attend to the pruning of established plants in your landscape.
Before you start pruning, take some time to think about your plan. Pruning can benefit your plant in a few ways, including helping it to have a strong structure, removing damaged limbs, and possibly improving flower and fruit set. However, each pruning cut creates a wound that provides access to insect and disease pests and takes energy from the plant to heal. Make sure you have a purpose when you’re pruning. As you get started with your plan to prune, you may want to read Before the Cut, a publication which details what to think about as you prepare to prune.
Summer is a good time to prune plants that flowered early in the spring. For instance, you may want to prune azalea or forsythia plants. Pruning these plants in the summer allows you to control their size and/or improve their structure, while still allowing ample time through the end of the season for the plant to form flower buds that will bloom next year.
You may also consider pruning any hedges in your yard during the summer. Typically, shrubs will grow back less vigorously after being pruned in the summer than they do if they are pruned during cooler weather in the spring. This means it may take longer before you’ll have to come back and prune the hedges again. In addition, it’s a good time to prune watersprouts in trees – these are the shoots that grow straight up vertically from the trunk or branches. Just like hedges, the watersprouts will grow back less vigorously when pruned in the summer.
After pruning, you will want to clean and sanitize your tools. This helps prevent the spread of diseases among plants. Make sure you clean all the dirt and debris off your pruners first – you may want to wipe them with a rag or use steel wool if rust has accumulated on the blades. After your pruners are clean of dirt, one way to sanitize is to spray or dip them in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Make sure your tools dry completely before storage, and you may want to oil them to prevent any rust from forming.
If you’re planning to prune plants at home, be sure to check out these publications for additional tips:
- General Pruning Techniques
- Tools to Make the Cut
- How to Prune Specific Plants
- NC Extension Gardener Handbook (Woody Ornamentals, Pruning) 11: VIII