So when is the best time to prune your shrubs and trees?
Wow, this question comes up many times like now in late winter. Actually, this is a teachable moment because many trees can be pruned now.
The main reason to prune late in the winter is two fold. First, the later you wait in the winter to prune, the quicker the wounds will heal. Secondly, if you prune before the winter is over, those cuts may very well split at the wound area. Even if you wait until the harsh part of the winter is over, remember to never prune when the temperature is below freezing. If there is an ideal temperature to prune, it should be around 40 degrees.
For your information, here is a general list of trees and shrubs and when they should be pruned:
- Fruit trees, like apples and peaches, can be pruned in February through March, but before the buds start to swell.
- Hardwoods can be extended from February to late March.
- Evergreens: Christmas to February is ideal.
- Hemlocks, junipers, or yews: during the growing season and before July 1st.
- Pine, spruce and fir trees: early summer.
Keep in mind that usually when you start pruning, you will need to prune that plant each year to retain its purpose or shape.
There are a few reasons why you need to prune your trees and shrubs. First of all, it stimulates wanted growth. It keeps the plant's growth in check. Pruning develops its future shape.
Certainly, pruning out dead or dying branches reduces the chance of disease and insect problems. As for apple trees, it can stimulate bigger more attractive fruit.
Finally, pruning can actually strengthen a tree. Pruning at the appropriate time can be critical to the survival of any tree or shrub.