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The Art of Pruning Shrubs When homeowners say they are planning on pruning their shrubs, they often mean they are going to ‘shear’ their shrubs. Inasmuch as shearing has its uses in landscaping, it is almost always done for aesthetic reasons and infrequently results in a plant that was wholesome. Pruning on the other hand, if done correctly, leaves the plant more healthy and shaped according to its natural shape. The right pruning consistently results in a more vigorous and healthy plant. Good pruning also leaves the shrub in its true form, not shaped into something else. Any pruning should begin with the removal of any dead or crossing branches. Crossing branches are those that grow inward toward or crossing the inside of the shrub. These are of no use and will inhibit the growth of branches that are desired by shading the interior of the plant. When the dead and crossing branches have been rid of, you’ll need to determine which type of pruning the shrub needs: whether maintenance or rejuvenation pruning.
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Maintenance pruning is simply required several times a year and requires only removing unwanted branches to maintain a natural shape. Search for long branches that seem out of place. Reach to the middle of the plant when removing and discover the point of natural branching. That is the area you need to make the cut.
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The cut should be at such an angle that it permits water to run off. Make the cut at 1/4-inch above the bud node. The bud node is where new development will start, so select a node pointing in the direction of the desired development. Choosing a node pointed toward the plant’s center will lead to a crossing branch. Rejuvenation pruning needs to be reserved for plants that are older. As plants age, main branches or stems lose their vigor and start to become unproductive. Rejuvenation pruning means exactly what it says, it rejuvenates old plants by returning them to their previous energy and shape. There are two ways to try it; one extreme and the other less extreme. Sometimes called renewal pruning, this drastic pruning involves cutting the plant completely back to a height between 6 to 12 inches. It is unsuitable for some shrubs, so check with your local greenhouse, extension agent or do your individual research before cutting since this could be very difficult on a plant. As the plant will be needing time to recuperate, time can also be crucial with such a pruning. Should the plant continue to be pretty vigorous, should the shrub be unable to handle a severe cutback or should you want to rejuvenate the shrub but nonetheless maintain its landscape form, it is possible to do a less severe long-term rejuvenation. Sticking to these straightforward techniques will keep your shrubs vigorous, healthy, and, in the event of flowering shrubs, covered in blooms year after year.