Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Pruning Trees and Shrubs

1. Q. When should I begin pruning my trees and shrubs to reduce their overall size? Is it too late to prune rose bushes -- I have a climbing rose which has gotten too large.

A. The optimum time for pruning of trees and shrubs is January through early March when trees and shrubs are dormant. This is also the best time to move established plants to new locations. Concerning the pruning of roses late in the fall, I would advise against it since you may cause the plant to initiate a new flush of growth and make it more susceptible to freeze damage. Of course, the pruning of climbing roses should occur immediately AFTER spring bloom -- pruning before that time can eliminate or drastically decrease spring bloom. When considering the pruning of evergreen shrubs such as photinias, hollies or pittosporum, remember that new growth with which to cover pruned areas will not occur until March or April so the sooner you prune, the longer you will have to look at the scenic ugly which you have created. Just be patient and wait until January or February to prune. The plants will appreciate the consideration. Also a word to the wise: If you will initially choose the best adapted shrub or tree which will ultimately only grow to the intended size for the location it is planted, VERY LITTLE PRUNING WILL EVER BE NECESSARY. A list of recommended trees and shrubs with their ultimate size is available from the County Extension Service Office. THINK and PLAN before you PLANT!

2. Q: I live in Eastern North Carolina and have a pretty big mulberry tree in my back yard. I also have a lot of dead branches on it, and know I need to prune them. After I prune, do I need to paint something on the base of where I pruned, especially the bigger branches?

A: Pruning paint is not necessary on wounds unless you have a wood rotting or borer problem. In Texas we only promote the painting of wounds on oak trees. There is a fungal problem called oak wilt which is spread by beetles feeding in these wound areas. By painting the wounds we eliminate this problem. However, wounds actually heal faster if no wound dressing is applied. The least damaging wound dressing is a product called orange shellac which is normally available at hardware stores.

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