Spring is here, and as the rain falls on the Pacific Northwest, flowers and trees start to blossom. Maybe you’ve looked around your yard recently and found too much blossoming!
Trees, shrubs, and roses experience a major growth spurt each spring. Should you prune them to be healthy, or does pruning roses in spring cause damage? Pruning is hard enough to fit into your busy schedule and even harder if you’re not sure what to cut and what to leave alone. If you’re looking to do some pruning this spring, consider these tips.
Pruning roses in spring every year is a must. Pruning rose bushes removes dead and diseased branches and shapes the plant properly. Shrub roses are very susceptible to fungus and other diseases, so clean your shears first in a bleach-water solution of equal parts. Pruning roses in spring can happen as early as late winter or as late as when the first buds start to show.
First, cut away dead or dying branches. Then cut away all branches smaller than a half-inch diameter, clipping as close to the main cane as you can. Finally, cut back at least one-third, and as much as one-half, of the top new growth to shape the plants. Don’t cut into the woodier, thicker canes when you are pruning the top.
Climbing roses need more gentle pruning in fall or winter when the plant is dormant. You only want to prune the side shoots of a climbing rose to gradually build up a strong plant framework. Pruning roses in spring only happens with regards to rose bushes.
Flowering Plants, Trees and Shrubs
Spring is definitely not the time to prune a spring-flowering tree or shrub that hasn’t bloomed yet. Overzealous snipping may drastically reduce your springtime display. Only start snipping after the flowering cycle has finished. If you have a shrub, like a forsythia, that bloomed out of last season’s growth (e.g. you didn’t cut the plant back in winter), you can cut these plants back immediately after flowering.
Less hardy plants for our region, like lavender and rosemary, need the top growth for winter protection. Once spring arrives, you can cut that off for new spring growth.
Flowering patterns vary according to the species. In general, you should prune these types of trees and shrubs in the late summer or fall, ensuring you don’t damage or remove any flowering buds. Use the same rule for a summer-flowering tree as these trees develop their buds in the spring. There are a few exceptions, like fuchsia, that you can cut back considerably in spring to encourage explosive flowers in summer.
Prune woody plants, like hydrangeas, before the wake up in the spring. Only prune new growth, as pruning old growth reduces summertime flowers.
Fruit trees are a unique type of flowering tree with special considerations. Prune fruit trees when they are dormant, i.e. not flowering and not bearing fruit. In our area, that means pruning them from November to March. Fruit trees yield the best fruit production if you prune them annually.
If your fruit trees have sucker branches or upright water sprouts, those interfere with a tree’s ability to produce large fruits. Remove these types of branches before they grow longer than 12 inches. If you have sap trees like a sugar maple, these trees have a very strong spring sap flow, so don’t prune until later in the year.
When considering pruning evergreen trees or shrubs in spring, use its hardiness indicator as a guide. Plants that are marginally hardy for our area, such as broadleaf evergreens, magnolias and certain oaks, might face damage due too cold if pruned in the spring. These trees might suffer from too much exposure to spring dips in temperature, so it’s best to wait until warmer months for pruning. Feel free to prune coniferous evergreens, like pines and spruce, at any time of the year.
The best time to prune deciduous plants, or plants that lie dormant in winter after losing leaves, is when they are without leaves or buds. Don’t worry if you missed the pruning window. If the plants contain new growth and leaves, you can prune once again in the June-July timeframe.
Pruning can be perplexing and time consuming, so consider leaving it to the professionals at Precision Tree Service. Our employees are very knowledgeable about successful pruning for every shrub and tree in Washington. We can make your property burst forth with curb appeal with perfect spring tree maintenance and pruning.
Don’t worry if you’ve gone crazy cutting your plants unnecessarily. We can correct any improper pruning that may have been done on your plants. We’ll have them back to healthy living in no time! Contact us to get a free estimate or submit a contact form.