There's always more to know about pruning | Gardner Joe

Here are more pruning tips as we get going into the growing season.

For fruit trees, I like to do a lot of my pruning in early summer.

In June, most fruit trees drop some of their undesirable fruit. And then the fruit trees direct more of their energy to the more desired fruit.

This is often called the “June drop.”

When I prune, I first look at the tree. I look for a good frame work. A well balanced tree yields great fruit.

In fruit trees, as well as any other trees or shrubs, they all have apical buds. The apical bud is the main bud at the top of the plant. It tells the plant how to grow and how to generate flower buds.

As we prune, we have to understand how the plant grows and why it is where it is in the garden.

Too many times many people prune at the wrong time and try to prune to keep the plant small. It is never a good idea to top your plant.

As you look at your plants look for the three Ds as mentioned before. (Dead, diseased, and dumb: dumb is the branch that crosses inside, rubbing on another branch.) Those all need to go.

For fruit trees: apples need a modified branch system, ideally three to four main scaffold branches. They need to be well-spaced.

Pear trees need a more columnar shape. And plums and cherry, as well as peach, trees need an open center frame work.

In the case of peaches, keep in mind that they make fruit on two-year-old wood. I like to prune out the oldest wood and keep the tree well balanced.

So, make sure you have your sharp tools and safety gear ready.

If you have hedges, just after the rush of spring growth, give them a shear. This type of pruning is for formal gardens. If you time it right you will only have to prune once or twice a year.

In hedges make the bottom a little wider than the top. That way the sunshine penetrates into the whole plant.

Spring has just passed, so if you haven’t planted some trees and shrubs, do it now. If you need to transplant something, I would wait until fall.

Reader Question:

Q. Do I need to deadhead my rhododendron?

A. I never deadhead mine. It’s only a cosmetic thing. For aesthetics you can but most of the rhododendron’s flowers will dry up and prune themselves.

Organic lawn tip:

Cut and recycle your clippings. Put down organic food and get your irrigation system ready. I will give more tips later.

Happy gardening,

Gardener Joe

Gardener Joe gives gardening classes at the Port Orchard Library on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m.


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