BY CARLA VAUGHT –
I get lots of questions about pruning plants. From shrubs and roses to fruit trees and even shade trees. This is the time of the year when most people start asking those pruning questions.
First, let’s talk about the reasons we prune our plants. There are different reasons to prune for different types of plants. Most fruits require annual pruning to keep them fruiting efficiently. Ornamental plants and shade trees often only need pruning to keep them vigorous and healthy. We also prune on occasion to manage size and shape and to remove any dead wood. There is never a good reason to “dehorn” a tree or shrub down to the main trunk. This method only promotes “sucker” growth that leads to more weak wood.
Let’s start with ornamental plants. There are some great rules of thumb out there when we need to start thinking about managing the size of some of our ornamental shrubs. Let’s start with the blooming shrubs: Generally, spring blooming shrubs set their blooms in the summer. If we prune them now, we prune off all of our spring blooms. If a spring blooming plant like azalea, forsythia, bridal wreath, lilac, or viburnum needs pruning, it should be done soon after they quit blooming and before they start a big growth spurt in late spring or early summer. Summer bloomers such as crapemyrtle, tea roses, rose of Sharon, and summer blooming clematis should be pruned in the spring before growth begins. One thing to note: It is NOT necessary to cut crapemyrtle back in order to get them to bloom. They bloom on new growth each year. For the health of the plant, do not follow the example set by the city on the crapemyrtles by the depot! They are severely pruned because they are in the KCS right of way and that is what KCS says to do to them each year!
Fruit trees, berries, and vines have specific pruning requirements based on the species you are dealing with. All fruits and vines perform much better when they are pruned as recommended. Pruning helps with disease and insect issues as well as helping plants set, grow, and ripen fruit each year. We have several publications that help fruit growers manage their orchards. It doesn’t matter if you are growing a few trees in the backyard or if you are trying to commercially grow fruit, you need to educate yourself on best management practices if you want to have success. Fact sheets are available at the office on managing all fruits.
We will also be conducting a fruit pruning workshop on Monday, February 23 at 2:00 pm at the Avalon Keep Botanical Garden on Miller Street in Mena. It is one block off of Reine Street near the old city yard. Everyone is welcome to join us. Clay Wingfield, horticulture program technician from the U of A Division of Agriculture Southwest Research and Extension Center at Hope will be teaching us all how to prune and manage fruit trees. Michael Cate has a large, diverse planting of fruits on the property.
If you need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us! The extension office is located on the corner of DeQueen and Hickory. Our phone number is 479-394-6018.