Know WHY you’re pruning. Has a plant taken over a space and needs to be cut back overall or has it become misshapen and needs to be made pretty again? Has the plant become tall and leggy and you want more dense growth or do you just need to snip in order to get a second flush of flowers? Before you prune, know the desired outcome and work back from there.
Know your plant. Some plants need to be pruned on “old wood” (buds are formed for next year’s bloom at the end of the current growing season on stems produced during the previous summer) or “new wood” (stems that have emerged during the current growing season and on which buds are formed in the current growing season.), and others don’t really care either way. If you don’t know which is what, consult with a local garden center before unholstering the clippers.
Use the right tools! There are several different kinds of pruning tools from hand clippers, to hedge shears to saws. Using the wrong tool not only makes for more work but can cause damage from improper cuts that wound the plant inviting pests and diseases. If you’re not sure, ask at a garden center!
Clean, clean, and then clean again. It’s easy to get into a rhythm while pruning and keep charging onto the finish line, but it vital to not only start with very clean tools (we use a sanitizer called Physan), but to clean your tools frequently while pruning. Grab a disinfectant pop up towel and use when moving from plant to plant.
Look twice, cut once. You can’t unring the bell! Before making large and major cuts to a plant, make sure to view the plant from all sides and only take what you need. Most plants can tolerate having 1/3 of their total growth pruned away; more than that means you just need to proceed with extra care.
4. Shrubs grown against walls should have any shoots pointing directly towards or away from wall cut away,
5. Spur pruning or pruning the side shoots on the main framework to about 4 in of their base of the shoot each year, helps encourage production of flowers in neat clusters rather than spaced along branches.
Take care of your back. Just be careful!