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Energy is stored within new shoots and so it is recommended to prune whilst your shrubs or trees are either dormant or just before emerging growth. However, the exact time of pruning will vary on the individual variety of your plants and shrubs. Recurrent pruning at the incorrect time of year may cause damage and weaken your plants. Spring flowering shrubs and trees are generally cut back once the flowering or fruiting period is over. Summer flowering series can be cut back during winter or early spring before signs of new growth emerge. Deciduous varieties are best pruned during spring and therefore fresh cuts will not suffer from frost damage. Spring pruning will also encourage and stimulate new growth which should emerge imminently and will develop in a desired fashion.
Where shrubs and trees produce flowers, you will need to investigate whether these flowers are produced on old or new growth. Varieties such as Chaenomeles will flourish on the previous year’s wood. Any pruning that is undertaken during dormancy may be done at the expense of the current year’s flowering. In cases such as this one, it is best to prune shrubs and trees once the flowering period is over.
Some people prefer to prune their shrubs and trees during early summer. Generally, this is the best time to thin out congested growth, as you can see the framework and foliage in full glory. This will make it easier for you to see what needs cutting back.
Evergreen shrubs and trees require little to no pruning. Generally, if pruning is required it is best undertaken during the spring. Aim to remove one-third of all older wood in total, taking out old, dead or diseased foliage. Where congestion is an issue, thin out branches to neaten its overall appearance.
The perfect pruning cut is where a 45-degree angle is achieved on each stem. Make sure you use sharp, clean tools to prevent disease and to leave clean cuts. Remove old growth up until the point where new growth is emerging. This will make room for new shoots to thrive and develop. Young shrubs and trees should be pruned lightly, enabling them to form a bushier and balanced habit. Trim long stems by cutting above a healthy bud as this will encourage stems to open and branch out, increasing the exposure to sunlight. Remove old, dead or diseased growth to neaten the overall appearance of your shrubs and trees.
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