16 Jan Winter Pruning is the New Black
Pruning is a word we hear repeatedly because of its importance, yet it’s a verb that often gets ignored during the Winter months. There are a multitude of benefits that result from pruning shrubs, including maintaining health and appearance, increasing air circulation and decreasing the risk of disease. Winter is the best season to prune your shrubs because during the Fall plants are at risk from high levels of insect and disease. During the Spring you risk cutting off new buds and leaves and although Summer is the second best season to prune, Winter is still optimal because there is a decline in bug and disease infestation in the shrub community.
First off, its imperative when pruning trees and shrubs that you use clean and sharp tools. The use of unclean tools always increases the chance of spreading disease from shrub to shrub. Note that when pruning, do not remove more than 1/3 of the plant’s size because it reduces the shrub’s ability to photosynthesize and carry on day-to-day health processes.
When to Prune
On average, Winter is considered over a period of 4 months that expand from November until February. We recommend pruning shrubs and trees during the latter of the Winter months for the obvious reason of gaining a clear view of what parts of your shrub are in need of pruning once the leaves have fallen off. The most important reason that we recommend pruning during this period is due to the dormant season of pests and disease. Similar to a human’s open wound, woody plants are susceptible to infection. After pruning your shrubs and trees, it’s key to let the wounds “heal over” naturally and thus is the reason winter is the principal pruning period during dormancy.
Even if you don’t feel your shrubs need to be pruned back, we still recommend removing deadwood, diseased and damaged branches. This will increase the air circulation and set your shrubs and plants up to have prosperous growth come Spring. Winter expands over a period of four months on average and therefore its oftentimes a challenge picking which Winter month to focus on pruning. The Green Industry suggests completing your trimming during February once the harsh, cold temperatures have started to pass. When pruning shrubs and various plants, use a pocket knife or hedge shears when making small cuts. There are multiple tools to use for larger cuts and bigger shrubs such as hand pruners or loppers.
Keep in mind that pruning is not always necessary depending on the type, size and health of your shrubs or trees, but if you determine it is required, Winter months are ideal during the decline of bugs and disease. It’s crucial that new wounds from pruning “heal” naturally and so you do not need to cover the cuts of your shrubs or trees. Remember: as long as you do not cut more than 1/3 of the size, your pruning job is not detrimental, however many people feel more comfortable having your professional detail team of maintenance professionals prune your landscape beds.
Suggested Shrubs to Prune During Winter Months
- Butterfly Bushes
- Crape Myrtle
- Burning Bush