Pruning tips: How to correct pruning mistakes to keep plants ‘strong and attractive’

When gardeners prune a plant, they cut leaves, branches, or stems to make the plant more attractive and structurally stronger. Good pruning minimizes damage to growing plant tissue. Poor pruning causes problems for the plant. Those who have inappropriately pruned their plants may be wondering how to correct pruning mistakes.

Teo Spengler, garden expert at GardeningKnowHow, explains: “Gardeners prune for different reasons. Pruning can exercise a plant, keep it healthy, help it flower or bear fruit, and keep the foliage or stems strong and attractive.

“In order for the cuts to heal quickly, you have to cut at the right time and in the right way.”

Common pruning mistakes include inappropriate pruning, too much pruning, and pruning at the wrong time. Can you fix a circumcision boo boo?

“Sometimes there’s little you can do to mend the damage other than wait for the bad ‘haircut’ to grow out. In some cases, however, repairing a bad cut simply requires additional tree care.”

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The expert found that the solution to this is to circumcise. Teo said: “Removing old, dead and damaged branches will correct this and encourage the plant to produce new wood.

“Never remove more than a third of the tree canopy in one season. If an overgrown bush or tree needs more, cut back another third the following year.”

Pruning at the wrong time of year is also a common mistake when pruning plants. The gardening professional explains: “The best time to prune varies, but is usually in winter or early spring. This is because many trees are dormant or stop growing during the winter.

“If you make serious seasonal pruning mistakes and prune a tree in summer or fall, you may have removed buds, flowers, or fruit.”

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However, some trees are susceptible to silver leaf disease and should therefore be pruned in summer when the risk of infection is lower.

To solve this problem, Teo advised, “Wait until winter and prune again with thinning or reduction pruning.” The former removes an entire branch at its point of origin on the trunk, while the latter cuts a branch back to a side branch.

Incorrect cuts are an absolute no-go when pruning plants A correct cut minimizes damage to the tree and allows it to heal quickly.

An improper cut, a cut too close to the trunk or a cut too far from the trunk, can seriously damage a tree.

The expert explained: “The ultimate in bad pruning moves is to tower over a tree. Reducing a tree’s size by cutting off the top of its main stem creates far more problems for the tree than it solves.

“If you crown a tree, you will find that it creates a multitude of gargoyles, or new vertical branches to replace the removed one. These compete for dominance, thereby compromising the structural integrity of the tree.”

To avoid this, Teo recommended choosing a new leader and offering him support. The expert said: “For conifers, tape a branch just below the cut so that it is vertical.

“Over time, the branch will naturally grow and serve as a leader. For deciduous trees, choose one of the new leaders and fend off any competition.”

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