gcrfd pruning chartMIDDLETOWN, NJ - The 17th of February will see members of Garden Club R.F.D. meeting at Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown where Diane Allen of the Monmouth County Parks System will discuss “Pruning & Preparing for Spring.”  If weather permits, there will be a brief tour in the garden to view proper pruning.

Pruning is a vital part of gardening.   But, people often do not want to prune trees and shrubs because they are afraid of possibly killing or seriously harming what they are working on.  With some knowledge about the act of pruning, however, you should be able to be successful in your endeavors.

When you prune deciduous plants in the winter, it promotes fast regrowth in the spring.  This is because most plants are dormant during the winter and since the foliage is pretty much gone, you can see the shape of the deciduous plants including the crossing and rubbing of branches-- and you can prune with confidence.

Try these easy Pruning Rules for a Tree:

1.  Prune on a mild, dry day.

2.  First prune (cut) dead, diseased and injured branches.

3.  Remove overgrown and smaller branches to create light and air at the tree’s crown.

4.  Keep the branches that maintain the structure of the trees.

5.  Finally, where on the branch do you cut?   Cut branches at the node, the point at which one branch or twig attaches to another.  Or, cut branches right above the branch collar—the juncture of limb and tree.

                A couple of special Rules of the Pruning Road’:

1.  For shrubs that flower after May 15, it is fine to prune in winter or early spring.

2.   But, if it flowers before May 15, like forsynthia, quince and azaleas, prune as soon as the plant finishes flowering. 

3.  Let the shrub keep its natural shape as you prune and for best bloom production, do not cut into a box or a ball or rounded shape.

4.  Flowering trees follow the same rules as flowering shrubs.  Examples are crepe myrtles that you can prune in late winter and dogwoods and redbuds that are taken care of after they flower in the spring.

Lastly, a word about Evergreens:

In general, broadleaf evergreens such as hollies and boxwoods don’t require much pruning, so a light pruning with a sharp pair of shears in spring before new growth begins and then again in summer works best.  Pine needle type evergreens like pine or spruce should only be pruned to remove diseased/damaged wood and that can be done any time of the year except if temperatures are below zero.   I doubt though that you would be out there in that circumstance.

If you want to learn more about our club, Garden Club R.F.D., that normally meets at the Little Red School House across from Thompson Middle School  in Middletown, on the third Tuesday of each month; or about this program at Deep Cut Gardens, call Linda at 732-681-9189.