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Tips on Shrubs Pruning When homeowners say they are planning on pruning their shrubs, they often 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 other hand, if done correctly, leaves the plant more healthy and shaped according to its natural shape. The right pruning consistently results in a more vigorous and healthy plant. Appropriate pruning also makes the shrub in its authentic shape, not formed into something it isn’t. Any pruning should start with the removal of any crossing or dead branches. Crossing branches are those that grow inward toward or crossing the inside of the shrub. These are of no use and may inhibit the desirable branches growth by shading the interior of the plant. When the dead and crossing branches have been rid of, you’ll need to determine which type of pruning the shrub needs: whether maintenance 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. Look for long branches that seem misplaced. Reach to the middle of the plant when removing in order to find the natural branching point. That is the location you need to make the cut.
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The cut should be in a manner that allows water to run off. Make the cut a quarter 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 towards the center of the plant will result in a crossing branch. Rejuvenation pruning, on the other hand, should be carried out on older plants. As plants age, branches or leading stems lose their vigor and be unproductive. Rejuvenation pruning means just what it says, it rejuvenates old plants by returning them to their previous energy and shape. There are two ways to try it; one extreme and the other less extreme. Occasionally called renewal pruning, this severe pruning includes cutting the plant totally back to a height of between 6 to 12 inches. Since this might be very hard on a plant, it is not suitable for all shrubs, so talk with your local extension agent, nursery or do your own research. As the plant will be needing time to recuperate, time can also be crucial with such a pruning. Should the plant continue to be pretty vigorous, should the shrub be unable to handle a severe cutback or should you want to rejuvenate the shrub but nonetheless maintain its landscape form, 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.