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Pruning Deciduous Plants

This article was first published on 31 Jul 2012.

Pruning Deciduous Plants

Pruning Deciduous Plants

Small or large

Now is the time when sap flow is reduced enough for pruning most types of deciduous plants, whether small shrub or large tree. Conversely, some knowledge of the plant is required as some plants should not be pruned at this time of year. Many books or websites can help you.

Removal of the 3Ds

Dead, diseased and dying material needs removed as it could be a source of future infection. Often damage to plants is mechanical, caused by human impact or weather.

Remove any branches that are crossing and could rub together and cause damage. This is best done at a young age as larger branches can leave a large hole and an unsightly cut and potential infection point.

Finding form in bare branches

First look at your plant to decide if it’s an individual or whether you want it to merge into the surrounding plants to create a single mass. Sometimes we have no choice as they may have been planted too closely together but where possible, a plant will often look its best when separated. A clear gap around the plant gives it more stature and helps competing plants survive.

After pruning to the desired shape, you may need to remove some of the congested internal branches. Opening up the interior allows better air flow and increased light to the remaining branches.

A range of pruned deciduous plants can be seen in the Geographic Plant Collection in the upper Dunedin Botanic Garden.

Dylan Norfield is the Geographic and Arboretum Collection Curator at Dunedin Botanic Garden.