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FEATURE – The temperatures are warming up and it’s time to get out into the yard again. One of the first tasks is to prune shrubs, roses, fruit trees and raspberries.
Many gardeners are intimidated by pruning because they don’t know exactly what to do, so they try to do something they hope looks good. This often involves cutting plants and shrubs, which is not recommended. Over time, this removes too much of the leaf-producing wood from the shrub, impacting the health of the plant and causing it to look lean.
A technique called “renewal pruning” can reduce a shrub’s size and help maintain its health. This involves concentrating on the older branches and removing 20-25% of the branches from the base of the shrub. This will reduce the size of the shrub by 30-50% while leaving enough branches to grow leaves and keep the shrub’s energy levels high. Shrubs that bloom in the spring such as lilac, forsythia and snowball bush should be pruned as soon as they have finished flowering.
Prune all other shrubs from late March to early April. Consider these sizing tips and be sure to wear protective clothing and gloves to protect your skin.
There are many varieties of roses and they often require slightly different pruning techniques. Prune bush/shrub roses using renewal pruning. For hybrid tea and grandiflora roses, prune them between the knees and the waist, depending on their age and vigor. Remove all but three or four of the healthiest canes and prune them near the base of the rose.
Hybrid tea and grandiflora roses bloom repeatedly throughout the growing season. Trimming them helps control their size, increases the number of flowers, and can help control certain pests and diseases.
When pruning fruit trees, start by pruning dead and diseased wood, then remove branches that cross through the main canopy and those that grow downward. With the exception of peaches and nectarines, only remove 20-25% of the total canopy. This percentage does not include dead or diseased wood that must be removed.
Peaches and nectarines can have up to 40% of their wood removed since the fruits are only produced on one-year-old wood. Click here to see a link on pruning peach trees. Click here to see a link for apple size.
When pruning raspberries, first determine if you have the summer or remontant variety. Everbearing types produce from summer to fall, while summer types provide a bountiful harvest in summer only. One way to prune evergreens is to cut all the stems a few inches off the ground.. This allows for a large fall harvest but no summer harvest.
Otherwise, the correct method for both types is to remove all dead canes from the patch at ground level. They are usually darker in color and have bark that is beginning to swell or peel. Of the remaining live canes, thin them out so they are 6 inches apart, leaving the thickest canes. After that, cut the canes at breast height. Click here to see a video on pruning raspberries.
For more yard and garden tips, visit the website.
Written by TAUN BEDDES, Utah State University Extension Horticulturist.
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