Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Check the Calendar

Some Thoughts on Pruning

    The vast majority of the pruning I do is done with an objective of controlling plant size, keeping wires or buildings or paths clear, for esthetic balance, view preservation, sunlight management, and so on.
    Another big category of pruning is decongesting or thinning plants such as camellias or purpleleaf plum trees, in order to make them less oppressive dark blobs; to render them a bit elegant and airy.
    For fruit trees the goals are harvestability, sunlight penetration, crop yield, and climbability.
    Ten pruning examples that are motivated to control pests:

1) Deadheading butterfly bush, Verbena bonariensis, ivy berries, etc. --so weedy reseeding is reduced.
2) Pruning elm trees in winter only --as pruning in summer makes them attractive to bark beetles.
3) Pruning (pinching) off lower leaves and thinning foliage on tomato plants --to delay late blight.
4) Pruning off apple twigs with powdery mildew.
5) Pruning tent caterpillar or fall webworm nests.
6) Thoroughly dead-wooding and thinning a rhodie that has powdery mildew (or a camellia with sooty mold) --in hope that better air circulation and light penetration may reduce the disease.
7) Pruning off all cherry twig ends diseased with bacterial canker --in hope of having less of it.
8) Pruning away old raspberry leaves and canes after they have borne --to minimize disease spores.
9) Pruning a Japanese apricot tree in July --to reduce the spread of fungal diseases, and so the pruning cuts will callus over quickly.
10) Pruning away vegetation that shades sun-loving plants, stressing and making the latter more susceptible to diseases or insects. Such as a sun-loving juniper infected by Phomopsis twig blight, being shaded by ivy. Or a dwarf apple tree all scabby in part because a maple shades it.

    Just as important as pruning, is the overall garden layout, as in balance of plants, proper siting of each plant in regard to light needs, water needs, soil needs, temperature needs. Too much watering, or shade, or mulch, or other problems such as compacted soil, root cutting, poisoned soil, less than ideal pH, and whatnot, are all common. The gardener must, for maximum success, be aware of the differing needs of a multiple of plants, and must juggle peoples' preferences, time and monetary limits, the weather, safety concerns, and so on.
    When people seek visual perfection --such as no fallen leaves, immaculate lawns, and unblemished foliage-- it requires extremely high maintenance, and often in such as cases there is a desire for much shearing and formal pruning. Such pruning is frequently stressful to shrubs and trees and can make them more apt to be attacked by bugs or diseases.
    When I work for clients, all of the above is in my consciousness, and much of it is shared in my words. Alas, some pruners exist who are relatively unaware, or may be aware yet don't care. A few ISA-certified arborists are unethical, and will overcharge, declare safe trees hazardous, and the like. In few professions besides pruning, are the majority of practitioners best avoided by clients. Hence the need for PlantAmnesty.
    (While I am on the subject, most landscape architects know plants insufficiently, and therefore repeatedly design plantings that present maintenance and pest/disease problems. It is extremely unfortunate that even at an institution of higher learning such as the University of Washington, the prize Yoshino Cherry trees are being replaced with grafted rather than own-root specimens --a guarantee of a shorter-lived, less healthy tree, due to inevitable delayed graft-incompatibility.)

(originally published in my July 2009 newsletter)

Back



Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert

Home   Wild Plants of Greater Seattle
About Arthur Lee Jacobson   Services & Rates   More Books
Plant of the Month   Essays   Frequently Asked Questions
   Articles   Tell A Friend
Awards and Interviews   Useful Links   Volunteer Work
Gary Lockhart's health books   Contact Me


http://www.arthurleej.com
all content and graphics herein
are Copyright © 2001