Gardening Ideas & Tips

Pruning Guide during Winter Season


When gardeners are asked when the perfect time to prune is, most likely they will tell you during winter days when the leaves are no longer in sight. You don’t really have to go out to remove those dying or damaged stems when the snow is unbearable, just wait for the day when the sun shows up a bit and take out your pruners to perform what you intend to do.

During winter, most plants are in a dormant state so this is the perfect time to get rid of their diseased parts as this will draw insects and provoke plant diseases to develop. Pruning is actually a horticulture practice of trimming parts of the plants like buds, roots and twigs to manage its overall growth.

Things to Keep in Mind When Pruning

  • You don’t prune because you just want to but because you need to. Keep in mind that not all plants can be pruned during winter.
  • Prune carefully, take your time and verify each angle if it’s well trimmed. You do it because you want your plant to grow well after the season so make sure not to overdo it.
  • Use tools that are purposely made for the job, use the sharp ones to avoid any hassle and to cut the desired part instantly, reducing the harm on the plants.
  • Don’t cut the branches or twigs anywhere, trim it on the nodes, the area where both branches meet.
  • Check for Insect Problems – it is usual to see eggs of caterpillars and moths on tree branches during winter, eliminate them by hand or pruning.
  • Sterilize your tools every after use, keep a solution (you can use two tablespoons of alcohol and a cup of water) with you while pruning. Keep your plants away from any diseases by taking time to disinfect every after cut.
  • Take it slow and cut one branch at a time. Always start with the outside branches, the largest one while moving inside to the smallest. You can break the rule if it doesn’t work but most of the time this should be followed.
  • Protect yourself to avoid further problems. Wear a goggle for eye protection for you can be poked easily while pruning. Also wear gloves, you might be dealing with plants that have thorns so better be prepared. If you are planning to prune a tree, you might consider asking assistance from an expert.

When pruning, understand when the plant usually has flowers as this will help you determine the proper time to trim it. Also keep in mind that the bushier the plants, the more trimming it needs. It might sound easy but it’s actually a bit complicated, especially if you are dealing with large trees and overgrown bushes, they can be demanding.

If you have several perennials in your garden, it is essential to determine if which among them need pruning as there are some trees that contain sap which are sticky and messy, so it’s always better to trim them during summer or fall.


Plants that Need Proper Pruning

  • Azaleas – they are quite bushy when growing so just try to remove those twigs that are sticking out of the way. If you want an area to become thicker pinch the visible shoot tips.
  • Grapes – this needs extensive pruning to maintain their production. Grape vines usually grow well if its pruned to its lateral arms during its dormancy. Though it still depends on its variety, most planters notice that its more vigorous when trimmed heavily.
  • Annuals – some plants of this type don’t grow well at their bases so only cut areas that are damaged and show some signs of sickness.
  • Perennials – though these flowers usually last, especially the native ones, they tend to be vigorous if you get rid of the faded ones, more flowers will come out if you keep only the healthy ones. If perennials become tall enough, shear them back a few inches from the ground, don’t worry this will help them promote to become stockier after a few months.

If you are a pro in gardening, then most likely you are already aware of the do’s and don’ts when pruning. It can be a tedious task especially if you’re a novice for it needs patience and proper timing. Most concerns are pruning with trees as it needs bulkier and heavier equipment. If this is the case, it is better to ask help from an expert to avoid accidents from happening.

Published: January 29, 2014