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A Guide to Pruning Shrubs When homeowners say they are going to prune their shrubs, they frequently mean they are going to shear their shrubs. Although ‘shearing’ has its usefulness in landscaping, it’s typically done for aesthetic reasons and infrequently ends in a wholesome plant. Pruning on the flip side, if done right, makes the plant more healthy and formed true to its natural shape. Good pruning consistently results in the more vigorous plant that is healthier. Appropriate pruning also makes the shrub in its authentic shape, not formed into something it isn’t. Any pruning should start with any crossing or dead branches removal. 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 crossing and dead branches are removed, you’ll need to find out which kind of pruning the shrub needs: maintenance pruning or rejuvenation pruning.
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Maintenance pruning is needed a couple of times annually and requires just removing unwanted branches to maintain a natural shape. Search for long branches that appear out of place. Reach to the middle of the plant, when removing, and locate the point of natural branching. That is the location you need to make the cut.
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The cut should be allowing water to run off by being at a 45-degree angle. Make the cut 1/4 of an inch above the bud node. The bud node is where new growth will begin, so select a node pointing in the direction of the growth that is desired. Settling upon a node pointed toward the middle of the plant can lead to a branch that is crossing. Rejuvenation pruning needs to be reserved for plants that are older. As plants age, branches or leading stems lose their vigor and be unproductive. As the name suggests, rejuvenation pruning means precisely what it says, it rejuvenates older plants by returning them to their prior vigor and shape. There are two approaches to get this done, one is extreme and the other is less intense. Sometimes called renewal pruning, this severe pruning involves cutting at the plant totally back to a height of six to twelve 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. In the event the plant continues to be fairly vigorous, in the event that you would like to rejuvenate the shrub but nevertheless keep its form or in the event the shrub cannot manage a severe cutback, it is possible to do a less severe long-term rejuvenation. Following these easy techniques will keep your shrubs healthy, vigorous and, in the case of flowering shrubs, covered in flowers year in, year out.