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January 2021 Gardening Tips

8 January 2021

A Garden Tip from Helen...

It’s hard to get inspired to go outside at this time of the year. It’s so bleak -- either too cold, or rainy and windy, or both! But on the occasional day when the sun is out and the weather becomes lovely for a few hours, take advantage of it to get the pruning shears out!!

What Is Pruning

Wikipedia defines pruning as--

“a horticultural and silvicultural (the growing and cultivation of trees) practice involving the selective removal of certain parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots. The practice entails targeted removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted tissue from crop and landscape plants.”

Why Prune

Pruning is an essential gardening chore necessary to promote not only good structural plant form, but to also prevent disease and injury in the landscape. Pests and diseases can attack a plant through dead wood, broken branches, and wounds caused by branches rubbing together. It is easy to see where this can happen or is already happening at this time of the year, particularly in deciduous trees. Two indications of damage, besides the obvious dead wood, include the signs of darkened wood, and the presence of shriveled buds when others have swelled. If you are unsure if a limb is dead or not, gently scrape the bark with your pruners to reveal the color of the growth layer underneath. Green means the limb is still alive. Brown means it’s time to prune.

How to Prune

Cuts to a limb should be made at an angle to a leaf scar which is the mark left on a limb after a leaf has fallen off in the fall, typically on a deciduous plant or tree. Cut just above the scar and at the same angle being careful not to cut too far or too close to the scar. For branches that need to be pruned, cut about six inches into live, healthy wood as evidenced by swollen buds. In the case of a broken branch or a pair of branches rubbing together, make a cut either back to a crotch (an area where the branch meets another branch or trunk) or to the nearest bud.

And remember, always dip your pruning tools in alcohol or a bleach solution between cuts! More on pruning next month.

Happy pruning,




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