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Tips and terminology for pruning

by Timber Press on June 11, 2014

in Gardening

Pruning will keep your plants from taking over, such as this old kiwi vine has done here.

Pruning will keep your plants from taking over, such as this old kiwi vine has done here.

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Pruning is a complex subject, but with guidance and care—and a tall ladder—anyone can do basic maintenance pruning. For starters, always prune a woody plant in this order: dead, damaged, diseased, deranged. After you have removed material in that order, look at your plant to decide if it needs further pruning for shape, size, fruit production, or aesthetic appeal. Three rules will protect your plants from wanton pruning.

More after the jump.

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From What’s Wrong With My Fruit Garden? by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth

TIPS

  • Always prune just above a node, the place where a leaf joins a stem. The node is where dormant buds are located. These will grow out into new stems. If you prune just below a node or in between two nodes, you leave a stub. Never leave a stub. The section of stem between two nodes, the internode, cannot grow new stems. All it can do is sit there, become infected, and rot. A stub is an open invitation to diseases that can kill your plant.
  • Prune to nodes with buds that face away from the center of the plant, and in the direction you want them to grow. New branches that grow from these buds will grow in the direction the bud is pointing. If you prune properly new growth develops away from the center of the plant, leaving the center open to air and light. This helps to avoid diseases and pests.
  • Never cut a branch off flush with the trunk or stem. The place where a branch joins the main trunk or larger branch is usually slightly swollen and is called a collar. The collar is special tissue that can quickly grow over and seal the wound when you prune off the branch. Always protect the collar.
  • If you cut any plant for any reason, sterilize your tools before you use them on another plant.
First, prune away dead and dying tissue, any branches or twigs that are already dead or clearly dying.

First, prune away dead and dying tissue, any branches or twigs that are already dead or clearly dying.

Next, look for damaged and broken branches and remove them.

Next, look for damaged and broken branches and remove them.

Remove diseased branches and stem tissue that has cankers, galls, or any bacterial, fungal, or viral infection, as well as tissue infested by insects or other pests.

Remove diseased branches and stem tissue that has cankers, galls, or any bacterial, fungal, or viral infection, as well as tissue infested by insects or other pests.

Finally, inspect your plant carefully and prune away deranged branches, those that cross into the middle of the plant or that take off in weird directions.

Finally, inspect your plant carefully and prune away deranged branches, those that cross into the middle of the plant or that take off in weird directions.

TERMINOLOGY

Open the center. This allows more air and light to reach the foliage in the interior of the canopy. Better air circulation and rapid drying avoids russeting of the fruit, corky tissue that develops on the surface of the fruit in response to staying too wet too long. It also helps to avoid a large number of fungal and bacterial diseases. Use thinning cuts for this purpose.

Thinning cuts. A thinning cut removes an entire branch at its base where it connects to a larger branch. Thinning cuts in moderation do not stimulate lateral buds into growth so they don’t initiate wild growth responses. Too much thinning, however, could overstimulate the tree and result in excessive new growth and water sprouts.

Heading-back cuts. A heading-back cut is one that severs a branch in the middle (but still just above a node) to remove the bud at the tip of a branch. This apical bud makes growth-regulating hormones that suppresses growth of lateral buds further down the branch. Cutting off the apical bud removes these hormones and stimulates lateral buds to begin to grow out into new branches. A moderate amount of heading-back rejuvenates the tree. Too much heading-back overstimulates the tree, resulting in a wild overproduction of new branches and water sprouts.

The red bar shows where a thinning cut should be made.

The red bar shows where a thinning cut should be made.

A heading-back cut (indicated by the red bar) would stimulate the development of side branches.

A heading-back cut (indicated by the red bar) would stimulate the development of side branches.

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David Deardorff, botanist and expert plant pathologist, loves to write and lecture about how to grow healthier plants. As a research biologist David has lived and gardened in many environments, from the desert southwest to the maritime northwest to the tropics. Currently, he and co-author Kathryn Wadsworth can be found presenting workshops around the U.S. on a wide variety of topics, from ecology to gardening.

authorphoto_kathryn03_credit-John-W-WEBKathryn Wadsworth, writer, photographer, and naturalist, enjoys sharing the wonders of the natural world with others. While leading eco-tours around the world she has studied plant life and explored natural history from Australia to Alaska. With her partner and co-author David Deardorff, she has lived and gardened in many environments, from the desert southwest to the maritime northwest to the tropics.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Seminte de Rosii December 6, 2017 at 12:20 am

Haw about pruning tomatoes? It is very important and no word about it.

2 TREE TRIMING September 30, 2018 at 1:04 pm

The great kind of information shared on a page for the removal of trees from a garden ,If you are interested to remove the trees from a garden in a very short interval of time Then you must write an application with the complete documentation and mentioned authentic reason which give you a permission to remove a tree from a garden after the passing of your application and also remember ” ecological point of view” the fantastic points of a article especially ” ecological point of view “. which is helpful for you to save your application from the objection of a country .
Thanks.

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