We’re lucky enough in Powell River to be able to grow a wide variety of beautiful plants, shrubs, and trees. To keep them healthy, proper pruning is essential. Taking off dead or diseased branches promotes better growth in the future. By following a pruning calendar, you will encourage your plants to grow more enthusiastically.
Pruning is about strategically removing parts of a plant to encourage healthy growth. It’s important to use sharp shears and try to remove branches in one cut, at a 45-degree angle as close to the base of the branch as possible. Remove any limbs that are rubbing against each other as open wounds leave your plant vulnerable to disease or pests. You do need to be careful not to over prune, as it can stunt the growth of your plants or reduce production for a season.
Pruning often involves sharp tools and heights, so make safety a priority. If you’re standing at the very top of your ladder, or trying to cut through very large branches, it’s time to call an arborist. They have the right equipment, techniques, and safety gear to prune your tree quickly and safely.
There are a couple of general rules of thumb for pruning smart:
- Flowering shrubs and trees should be pruned as soon as they finish blooming.
- Fruiting shrubs and trees should be pruned when they’re dormant.
- Evergreens shouldn’t be pruned much unless they’re riddled with unruly, diseased, or dead branches.
Different kinds of plants, shrubs, and trees, should be pruned based on an annual schedule. We’ve put this handy calendar together to help you keep on top of pruning and get it done at the right time of year. Since we’re heading into fall already, we’ll start with things to prune at the end of summer.
June to August:
Deciduous flowering or fruiting trees and shrubs can be pruned when they finish producing. Spent blooms on flowering shrubs should be trimmed. Needle-leaf and broad-leaf evergreens can be pruned if necessary.
September to October:
Most trees and shrubs should not be pruned in the fall as it does not leave them much time to start new growth before winter. If you have tree limbs at risk of breaking in winter you can take them off, but avoid other pruning.
Oaks are the only exception. Fresh cuts on oak trees attract beetles that carry the fungal disease oak wilt. The beetles are less active later in the year, so pruning in the fall is better than risking infection.
November to January:
February to March:
Summer blooming shrubs or plants, like roses and summer spirea, can be cut back in the early spring.
April to May:
Spring flowering trees and shrubs like azaleas, rhododendrons, ornamental cherries, plums, and crabapples should be pruned after blooming. Don’t wait too long because they start producing next year’s buds shortly after blooming.
Once in a while, you may have to prune off the calendar schedule. If you have to remove a diseased or a broken limb, do it immediately instead of waiting around. It’s better to prune at the wrong time and prevent disease or remove injured limbs than to leave the plant vulnerable to further infection or rot. Your plants will still recover, it may just take them a while to heal.
Because of our mild climate in Powell River, the dormancy season is a little shorter than the rest of Canada, so it’s important to keep an eye on the pruning calendar. If you have questions about pruning; what equipment to use, how to prune specific plants or trees, and when to do it, stop by our garden centre at Mother Nature. We’re happy to help you find the best solutions for pruning in your garden.