Avant Gardening

Avant Gardening & Landscaping

Why is Dormant Pruning Important? Expert Tree & Shrub Trimming

Do you have a large Dogwood, Viburnum or other suckering plant that is outgrowing its space? Dormant pruning maybe your solution!

What is dormant pruning?  

Well what does “dormant” mean exactly… with regards to a plant or bud, “dormant” means: alive but not actively growing. Think of it like a hibernation period for plants, their normal functions are suspended or slowed down in the winter time.

Dormant pruning is strategic pruning (or trimming) that is done during a plant’s dormancy period – winter or early spring, before the buds break. The plant is pruned aggressively, reducing its overall size by thinning out the canes, removing dead, diseased and crossing branches.

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BEFORE – overgrown & crossing branches

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AFTER – thinned, increased overall health

Why is dormant pruning important?

Dormant pruning is a great practice to increase the overall health of your landscape. Pruning in general helps you control the size of a plant, growth pattern, and helps rejuvenate old overgrown plants.

Although the snow and bitterly cold wind chills might make you just want to hibernate as well… dormant pruning is typically the best time to prune plants. You are able to see the overall branch structure more easily, and the insects and disease-causing organisms are not active during this time of year.

What about trimming large trees?

Mature trees are especially important to ONLY dormant prune to prevent the spread of diseases. Various insects and diseases are attracted to fresh, open ‘bleeding’ cuts on trees. One prime example is with Oak trees. They should only be pruned after October 15th, but if possible it is best if they are dormant pruned when the picnic beetle is definitely not active. Oak Wilt is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum. Picnic beetles are attracted to mats of the oak wilt fungus in infected trees, they pick up spores of the fungus on their bodies, and then carry the spores to healthy trees. The beetles are attracted to trees that have been recently wounded poorly timed pruning, and sometimes wind or storm damage.

What cannot be dormant pruned?

Evergreens, however, do not respond well to this type of pruning. Generally evergreens require very little pruning, especially since they are slower growing, but if necessary this should be done later in the spring or summer.

 

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