• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Copyright
 What is pruning?
 Why prune
 When to prune
 Pruning techniques
 Pruning shrubs
 Pruning trees
 Removing large tree branches
 Hedge pruning
 Back Cover






Group Title: Florida Cooperative Extension Service circular 853
Title: Pruning landscape trees and shrubs
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00049221/00001
 Material Information
Title: Pruning landscape trees and shrubs
Series Title: Circular Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Physical Description: 11 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Gilman, Edward F., 1953-
Black, Robert J ( Robert John ), 1942-
Publisher: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Publication Date: <1990?>
 Subjects
Subject: Pruning   ( lcsh )
Shrubs -- Pruning   ( lcsh )
Trees, Care of   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: Edward F. Gilman and Robert J. Black.
General Note: Caption title.
Funding: Florida Historical Agriculture and Rural Life
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00049221
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station; Institute for Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS), University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: oclc - 23111211

Table of Contents
    Copyright
        Copyright
    What is pruning?
        Page 1
    Why prune
        Page 1
        Maintain or improve vigor
            Page 1
        Control plant size and form
            Page 2
        Training young plants
            Page 2
        Influence flowing and fruit production
            Page 3
        Safety pruning
            Page 3
        Rejuvenate old plants
            Page 3
        Pruning at transplanting
            Page 3
    When to prune
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Pruning techniques
        Page 5
    Pruning shrubs
        Page 5
        Rejuvenation of shrubs
            Page 6
    Pruning trees
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Removing large tree branches
        Page 10
    Hedge pruning
        Page 10
        Page 11
    Back Cover
        Page 12
Full Text





HISTORIC NOTE


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
(EDIS)

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.






Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida










spraying insecticides if the infestation is small and
localized. Weekly checking is often necessary to detect
a disease or an infestation in the early stages.

Control plant size and form
A common objective of pruning is to maintain or
develop a desired size or form. However, this can be
largely eliminated by installing the proper species or
cultivar and by not over fertilizing. Many compact
and dwarf shrubs are now available at retail garden
centers. Selective pruning can shape plants or
produce either a thin or thick canopy. A thinner
canopy will allow more light penetration and help
keep interior leaves on the plant. Root pruning can
be used to slow plant growth, producing a more
compact plant. Prune one half the root system, wait
4-6 weeks, then prune the other half. Root pruning
should be scheduled so roots will be watered
thoroughly to keep the soil moist for 4-6 weeks
following root pruning.

Training young plants
There are several reasons to train plants. Pruning
young trees can dramatically influence their long-
term health, function and survival. Early pruning on
young shrubs encourages branching and fullness,
which are frequently desirable characteristics of
landscape plants.
Branch spacing and arrangement and the ultimate
structural strength and safety of a tree can be
controlled by selectively removing branches on a
young sapling (Figure 1). Always work with the
natural form of a plant. Encourage only one central
trunk to develop by removing competing, upright
trunks or branches. This should begin within the
first 2-3 years after the tree is propagated. Tree
training continues for 10 or more years on large-
maturing species. Frequent light prunings several
times each year encourage faster growth and prevent
undesirable sprouting compared to one heavy pruning
each year. In all but the highest maintenance
landscapes, do not attempt to dramatically alter the
natural form; instead, choose a species which has
more of a natural tendency to grow into the desired
form. For example, a river birch, red maple, or
tabebuia would be better suited as a shade tree in a
narrow vertical space than would live oak.
Plants can be pruned into different shapes such as
balls, squares, rectangles, or animal figures to create
special effects. This practice (topiary) has become
popular in recent years, but plants pruned in this


FIGURE 1. A) Desirable form and branching pattern on a
young large-sized shade tree such as live oak, sycamore
or southern magnolia. Major limbs are spaced 12-24" apart
along the trunk, not clustered at the same point on the
trunk. B) Desirable form on a young, small-sized patio tree
such as dogwood, redbud or frangipani. Major limbs can
be spaced closer together on the trunk.

manner become focal points and should be used
sparingly in most landscapes. Topiaries can be grown
by planting a small-leaved plant such as boxwood,
surinam cherry, natal plum, or pyracantha and
training the plant into a specific form. A new
technique utilizes a wire mesh frame which is packed
tightly with sphagnum moss. Appropriate plant
species including begonias, ivy and creeping fig can
be planted in the sphagnum, forming a fully grown
topiary in several months to 2 years.
The practice of growing plants against a wall
(espalier) requires frequent pinching and pruning.
Plants trained in this manner are specimen plants
and not all plants are adaptable to this pruning
technique. Pyracantha, sea grape, fatshedra, magnolia,
yaupon holly, podocarpus, and loquat make excellent
espalier plants.
Plants which many consider to be large shrubs
such as photinia, wax myrtle, and pittosporum, can
be trained into small trees by gradually removing
(over a period of 1-3 years) all the foliage and small
branches from the lower portion of one or more
stems. This should not start before the plants are 8'
tall so that the main trunks can develop properly.
Small branches left along the lower trunk will build
trunk caliper and create a sturdier tree. The longer
they remain on the trunk, the thicker and stronger
the trunk becomes.










spraying insecticides if the infestation is small and
localized. Weekly checking is often necessary to detect
a disease or an infestation in the early stages.

Control plant size and form
A common objective of pruning is to maintain or
develop a desired size or form. However, this can be
largely eliminated by installing the proper species or
cultivar and by not over fertilizing. Many compact
and dwarf shrubs are now available at retail garden
centers. Selective pruning can shape plants or
produce either a thin or thick canopy. A thinner
canopy will allow more light penetration and help
keep interior leaves on the plant. Root pruning can
be used to slow plant growth, producing a more
compact plant. Prune one half the root system, wait
4-6 weeks, then prune the other half. Root pruning
should be scheduled so roots will be watered
thoroughly to keep the soil moist for 4-6 weeks
following root pruning.

Training young plants
There are several reasons to train plants. Pruning
young trees can dramatically influence their long-
term health, function and survival. Early pruning on
young shrubs encourages branching and fullness,
which are frequently desirable characteristics of
landscape plants.
Branch spacing and arrangement and the ultimate
structural strength and safety of a tree can be
controlled by selectively removing branches on a
young sapling (Figure 1). Always work with the
natural form of a plant. Encourage only one central
trunk to develop by removing competing, upright
trunks or branches. This should begin within the
first 2-3 years after the tree is propagated. Tree
training continues for 10 or more years on large-
maturing species. Frequent light prunings several
times each year encourage faster growth and prevent
undesirable sprouting compared to one heavy pruning
each year. In all but the highest maintenance
landscapes, do not attempt to dramatically alter the
natural form; instead, choose a species which has
more of a natural tendency to grow into the desired
form. For example, a river birch, red maple, or
tabebuia would be better suited as a shade tree in a
narrow vertical space than would live oak.
Plants can be pruned into different shapes such as
balls, squares, rectangles, or animal figures to create
special effects. This practice (topiary) has become
popular in recent years, but plants pruned in this


FIGURE 1. A) Desirable form and branching pattern on a
young large-sized shade tree such as live oak, sycamore
or southern magnolia. Major limbs are spaced 12-24" apart
along the trunk, not clustered at the same point on the
trunk. B) Desirable form on a young, small-sized patio tree
such as dogwood, redbud or frangipani. Major limbs can
be spaced closer together on the trunk.

manner become focal points and should be used
sparingly in most landscapes. Topiaries can be grown
by planting a small-leaved plant such as boxwood,
surinam cherry, natal plum, or pyracantha and
training the plant into a specific form. A new
technique utilizes a wire mesh frame which is packed
tightly with sphagnum moss. Appropriate plant
species including begonias, ivy and creeping fig can
be planted in the sphagnum, forming a fully grown
topiary in several months to 2 years.
The practice of growing plants against a wall
(espalier) requires frequent pinching and pruning.
Plants trained in this manner are specimen plants
and not all plants are adaptable to this pruning
technique. Pyracantha, sea grape, fatshedra, magnolia,
yaupon holly, podocarpus, and loquat make excellent
espalier plants.
Plants which many consider to be large shrubs
such as photinia, wax myrtle, and pittosporum, can
be trained into small trees by gradually removing
(over a period of 1-3 years) all the foliage and small
branches from the lower portion of one or more
stems. This should not start before the plants are 8'
tall so that the main trunks can develop properly.
Small branches left along the lower trunk will build
trunk caliper and create a sturdier tree. The longer
they remain on the trunk, the thicker and stronger
the trunk becomes.










Influence flowering and fruit production
Larger fruit can be produced by selectively
removing flowers or developing fruits. Those
remaining will be larger. Light pruning helps to
maintain annual flowering and fruiting on fruit trees.
Severe pruning on plants which flower on current
season's growth, such as crape myrtle, will generally
stimulate vegetative growth; and produce fewer, but
larger flower clusters. On species which flower
terminally (e.g., azalea, cassia, crape myrtle) pinching
new vegetative growth during the growing season will
stimulate growth of lateral shoots and will increase
the number of blossoms produced. Remove developing
seed heads on crape myrtle to promote a second, and
perhaps a third, flower display.

Safety pruning
The manner in which stems are attached to each
other and to the trunk influences the structural
strength of the tree. Remove branches with em-
bedded bark having narrow "V" shaped crotches in
favor of wider-angled "U" shaped crotches (Figure 2).
Large decayed, broken, or poorly attached tree limbs
should be recognized and promptly removed by a pro-
fessional before they fall. Remove dead branches and
branch stubs as they can lead to serious trunk decay
(Figure 3). Periodic tree inspection by a professionally
trained tree specialist (arborist) can help prevent
these situations from becoming unsafe conditions.

Rejuvenate old plants
Sometimes a shrub which is not growing well,
despite receiving adequate light, water and nutrients,
can be invigorated or "shocked" into growing by
severe pruning. Typically, the plant either dies or
begins growing vigorously in response to this drastic
treatment.

Pruning at transplanting
Shoot pruning for the purpose of compensating for
root loss at transplanting is not recommended. Prune
only to remove dead, diseased, crossed, rubbing or
broken branches. About one year after transplanting,
begin pruning to develop appropriate form and
structure.

When to Prune

Trees and shrubs can be lightly pruned anytime.
To minimize reduction of next year's flowers, prune
spring-flowering plants, such as azaleas, spireas, and


FIGURE 2. A) Remove limbs with embedded bark. They are
poorly attached to the tree and can split from the tree as
they grow older. Embedded bark is bark that is squeezed
between stems. The union of the two stems appears as a
"V". B) Retain limbs with raised branch bark ridge at the
union of the stems. The crotch between these stems
appears as a "U" and represents a strong union between
stems. C & D) The crotches between the trunk and
branches a, b and c will develop embedded bark. They
should be removed when the tree is young in favor of the
remaining wider angled branches.


FIGURE 3. Proper removal of a dead branch. Do not cut into
the swollen collar growing around the dead branch. This
will injure the trunk since the collar is composed of trunk
tissue. Cut along dashed line.


swollen trunk collar










Influence flowering and fruit production
Larger fruit can be produced by selectively
removing flowers or developing fruits. Those
remaining will be larger. Light pruning helps to
maintain annual flowering and fruiting on fruit trees.
Severe pruning on plants which flower on current
season's growth, such as crape myrtle, will generally
stimulate vegetative growth; and produce fewer, but
larger flower clusters. On species which flower
terminally (e.g., azalea, cassia, crape myrtle) pinching
new vegetative growth during the growing season will
stimulate growth of lateral shoots and will increase
the number of blossoms produced. Remove developing
seed heads on crape myrtle to promote a second, and
perhaps a third, flower display.

Safety pruning
The manner in which stems are attached to each
other and to the trunk influences the structural
strength of the tree. Remove branches with em-
bedded bark having narrow "V" shaped crotches in
favor of wider-angled "U" shaped crotches (Figure 2).
Large decayed, broken, or poorly attached tree limbs
should be recognized and promptly removed by a pro-
fessional before they fall. Remove dead branches and
branch stubs as they can lead to serious trunk decay
(Figure 3). Periodic tree inspection by a professionally
trained tree specialist (arborist) can help prevent
these situations from becoming unsafe conditions.

Rejuvenate old plants
Sometimes a shrub which is not growing well,
despite receiving adequate light, water and nutrients,
can be invigorated or "shocked" into growing by
severe pruning. Typically, the plant either dies or
begins growing vigorously in response to this drastic
treatment.

Pruning at transplanting
Shoot pruning for the purpose of compensating for
root loss at transplanting is not recommended. Prune
only to remove dead, diseased, crossed, rubbing or
broken branches. About one year after transplanting,
begin pruning to develop appropriate form and
structure.

When to Prune

Trees and shrubs can be lightly pruned anytime.
To minimize reduction of next year's flowers, prune
spring-flowering plants, such as azaleas, spireas, and


FIGURE 2. A) Remove limbs with embedded bark. They are
poorly attached to the tree and can split from the tree as
they grow older. Embedded bark is bark that is squeezed
between stems. The union of the two stems appears as a
"V". B) Retain limbs with raised branch bark ridge at the
union of the stems. The crotch between these stems
appears as a "U" and represents a strong union between
stems. C & D) The crotches between the trunk and
branches a, b and c will develop embedded bark. They
should be removed when the tree is young in favor of the
remaining wider angled branches.


FIGURE 3. Proper removal of a dead branch. Do not cut into
the swollen collar growing around the dead branch. This
will injure the trunk since the collar is composed of trunk
tissue. Cut along dashed line.


swollen trunk collar










Influence flowering and fruit production
Larger fruit can be produced by selectively
removing flowers or developing fruits. Those
remaining will be larger. Light pruning helps to
maintain annual flowering and fruiting on fruit trees.
Severe pruning on plants which flower on current
season's growth, such as crape myrtle, will generally
stimulate vegetative growth; and produce fewer, but
larger flower clusters. On species which flower
terminally (e.g., azalea, cassia, crape myrtle) pinching
new vegetative growth during the growing season will
stimulate growth of lateral shoots and will increase
the number of blossoms produced. Remove developing
seed heads on crape myrtle to promote a second, and
perhaps a third, flower display.

Safety pruning
The manner in which stems are attached to each
other and to the trunk influences the structural
strength of the tree. Remove branches with em-
bedded bark having narrow "V" shaped crotches in
favor of wider-angled "U" shaped crotches (Figure 2).
Large decayed, broken, or poorly attached tree limbs
should be recognized and promptly removed by a pro-
fessional before they fall. Remove dead branches and
branch stubs as they can lead to serious trunk decay
(Figure 3). Periodic tree inspection by a professionally
trained tree specialist (arborist) can help prevent
these situations from becoming unsafe conditions.

Rejuvenate old plants
Sometimes a shrub which is not growing well,
despite receiving adequate light, water and nutrients,
can be invigorated or "shocked" into growing by
severe pruning. Typically, the plant either dies or
begins growing vigorously in response to this drastic
treatment.

Pruning at transplanting
Shoot pruning for the purpose of compensating for
root loss at transplanting is not recommended. Prune
only to remove dead, diseased, crossed, rubbing or
broken branches. About one year after transplanting,
begin pruning to develop appropriate form and
structure.

When to Prune

Trees and shrubs can be lightly pruned anytime.
To minimize reduction of next year's flowers, prune
spring-flowering plants, such as azaleas, spireas, and


FIGURE 2. A) Remove limbs with embedded bark. They are
poorly attached to the tree and can split from the tree as
they grow older. Embedded bark is bark that is squeezed
between stems. The union of the two stems appears as a
"V". B) Retain limbs with raised branch bark ridge at the
union of the stems. The crotch between these stems
appears as a "U" and represents a strong union between
stems. C & D) The crotches between the trunk and
branches a, b and c will develop embedded bark. They
should be removed when the tree is young in favor of the
remaining wider angled branches.


FIGURE 3. Proper removal of a dead branch. Do not cut into
the swollen collar growing around the dead branch. This
will injure the trunk since the collar is composed of trunk
tissue. Cut along dashed line.


swollen trunk collar










Influence flowering and fruit production
Larger fruit can be produced by selectively
removing flowers or developing fruits. Those
remaining will be larger. Light pruning helps to
maintain annual flowering and fruiting on fruit trees.
Severe pruning on plants which flower on current
season's growth, such as crape myrtle, will generally
stimulate vegetative growth; and produce fewer, but
larger flower clusters. On species which flower
terminally (e.g., azalea, cassia, crape myrtle) pinching
new vegetative growth during the growing season will
stimulate growth of lateral shoots and will increase
the number of blossoms produced. Remove developing
seed heads on crape myrtle to promote a second, and
perhaps a third, flower display.

Safety pruning
The manner in which stems are attached to each
other and to the trunk influences the structural
strength of the tree. Remove branches with em-
bedded bark having narrow "V" shaped crotches in
favor of wider-angled "U" shaped crotches (Figure 2).
Large decayed, broken, or poorly attached tree limbs
should be recognized and promptly removed by a pro-
fessional before they fall. Remove dead branches and
branch stubs as they can lead to serious trunk decay
(Figure 3). Periodic tree inspection by a professionally
trained tree specialist (arborist) can help prevent
these situations from becoming unsafe conditions.

Rejuvenate old plants
Sometimes a shrub which is not growing well,
despite receiving adequate light, water and nutrients,
can be invigorated or "shocked" into growing by
severe pruning. Typically, the plant either dies or
begins growing vigorously in response to this drastic
treatment.

Pruning at transplanting
Shoot pruning for the purpose of compensating for
root loss at transplanting is not recommended. Prune
only to remove dead, diseased, crossed, rubbing or
broken branches. About one year after transplanting,
begin pruning to develop appropriate form and
structure.

When to Prune

Trees and shrubs can be lightly pruned anytime.
To minimize reduction of next year's flowers, prune
spring-flowering plants, such as azaleas, spireas, and


FIGURE 2. A) Remove limbs with embedded bark. They are
poorly attached to the tree and can split from the tree as
they grow older. Embedded bark is bark that is squeezed
between stems. The union of the two stems appears as a
"V". B) Retain limbs with raised branch bark ridge at the
union of the stems. The crotch between these stems
appears as a "U" and represents a strong union between
stems. C & D) The crotches between the trunk and
branches a, b and c will develop embedded bark. They
should be removed when the tree is young in favor of the
remaining wider angled branches.


FIGURE 3. Proper removal of a dead branch. Do not cut into
the swollen collar growing around the dead branch. This
will injure the trunk since the collar is composed of trunk
tissue. Cut along dashed line.


swollen trunk collar










dogwoods, in late spring before the flower buds set
for the next season (Table 1). These plants set their

Table 1. Winter and Spring flowering plants which can be
pruned after flowering but before flower buds form for next
year's show.*
Shrubs Trees
azaleas dogwoods
some hydrangeas fringe tree
banana shrub African tulip-tree
camellia redbud
spireas magnolias
Indian hawthorn
wisteria
star and saucer magnolia
Structural pruning can be done at any time.
flower buds on the previous season's growth and
buds over-winter on this older growth. For example,
dogwoods and azaleas form flower buds in July for
the following year's flower display. Pruning or
pinching between the end of the flower display and
late spring would not reduce the number of flower
buds set. Pinching the new shoots on azalea anytime
from several weeks after they begin elongating
through May will encourage lateral branching. Each
of these laterals is likely to develop a flower bud.
Thus the pinched plant produces many more flowers
the following year, than an unpinched plant (Figure
4). Pruning between July and the flower display
would remove flower buds and reduce the flower
display but should not affect the health of the plant.
Plants that produce flowers on current season's
growth such as abelia, hibiscus and rose are usually
pruned while dormant or just before the spring
growth flush (Table 2). Developing shoots can be
pinched to encourage lateral branching which will en-





g


FIGURE 4. Pinching new spring or early summer growth on
plants which flower on subsequent shoot growth will
encourage more flower bud formation for next year's flower
display. Azalea respond well to pinching.


Table 2. Plants producing flowers on current season's growth
which can be pruned during the dormant season.*
Shrubs Trees
allamanda frangipani
abelia bottle brush
hibiscus cassia
oleander royal poinciana
rose jacaranda
acacia
golden rain tree
princess-flower
crape myrtle
Structural pruning can be done at any time.

hance the flower display. Moderate to severe pruning
may encourage production of fewer but larger
blossoms or blossom clusters.
It is best to prune trees late in the dormant season
or several weeks following a growth flush. Pruning at
other times frequently promotes undesirable
sproutihg. Trees sprout excessively and are easily
damaged when pruned during active shoot elongation.
The worst times to prune are when leaves are
forming. Do not prune trees which are under stress.
Most evergreens, such as podocarpus, holly,
boxwood, ligustrum, juniper, and wax myrtle, can be
pruned anytime. Terminal growth of pines can be
controlled by removing one-half of the new shoot in
the spring just prior to needle expansion (Figure 5).
This encourages new bud formation at the pinch,
slows growth on the pinched branch, and creates a
more compact plant. Never pinch a pine at other
times of the year since new buds will not form.
To encourage rapid shoot development and greatest
overall plant growth, prune just prior to bud swell in
the spring. To retard growth for maximum dwarfing
effect, prune just after each growth flush, when
leaves have expanded fully. Late summer pruning
may stimulate an additional flush of shoot growth on
species which flush several times each year. These
shoots could be damaged by an early frost.






.' /t





FIGURE 5. Prune pines by pinching one-half of the new
shoot before the needles elongate.


PINCHED


UNPINCHED










Closure (callusing) of pruning wounds on most
trees and shrubs should be most rapid if pruning is
conducted just before, or immediately following the
spring growth flush.
This is desirable because a closed wound is more
aesthetically pleasing; and insects, diseases, and decay
organisms are discouraged from entering the plant. In
addition, cold injury can be reduced if pruning is
conducted close to spring bud break. Late fall and
early winter pruning can stimulate new growth,
particularly during a mild period during the winter.
These succulent stems are not cold hardy and can
be easily damaged, even by a light frost. Low winter
temperatures can also cause cambium damage be-
neath improperly executed pruning cuts, even if
growth is not stimulated by pruning. This is
particularly true of plants which are marginally
hardy. If in doubt about cold susceptibility, it is best
to delay heavy pruning to just before growth begins
in the spring.
Some trees such as birch, maple, dogwood, elm,
and walnut bleed sap from pruned wounds if they
are pruned during late winter or early spring. This
"bleeding" is not usually harmful to the tree, but the
dripping sap is often objectionable. Trees which show
this tendency should be pruned in late fall or early
winter.

Pruning Techniques

Plants are pruned by either heading back or
thinning. Heading back (Figure 6) is the selective
cutting of terminal ends of twigs or young branches
back to an axillary bud or node. This technique
produces a denser tree or shrub because it usually
increases the number of shoots and leaves. However,
new growth is typically vigorous and upright --
developing from two to several buds just behind the
pruning cut. The new foliage may be so thick that it
shades the lower growth forming a top-heavy plant.
This can be avoided in shrubs by heading back shoots
to several different heights (Figure 7).
Heading back (stubbing) trees is rarely warranted
in landscape sites. If it is necessary, e.g., to prune
beneath power lines or to clear a tree from inter-
fering with a structure, always head back to a fork
where there is a live branch (called drop-crotching -
Figure 8). Within several months, prune out all
sprouts growing in response to the pruning cut.
Never "hat-rack" a landscape tree, i.e., cut all
branches back to about the same length without
regard for their location (Figure 9). This type of
pruning has no place in horticulture and is not


FIGURE 6. A) Heading back a young unbranched trunk will
force two to four buds back from the cut into vigorous
upright growth. Undesirable multiple leaders with
embedded bark will develop on trees from this type of
pruning; however, properly placed, these cuts can create
and maintain a nicely formed shrub. B) Growth from an
unpruned shoot will be more typical of the natural form
and more uniformly distributed along the trunk. Note the
horizontal branching habit and the desirable central leader.

recommended. When heading back trees or shrubs,
make the cut on a slight slant 1/4 inch above a
healthy bud (Figure 10). The bud should be facing
the direction preferred for new growth.
Thinning (Figure 11) is the complete removal of
branches back to lateral branches or the main trunk;
or, in shrubs, to the ground. Thinning gives a plant
an open appearance and can encourage new growth
inside the crown depending on how the plant is
thinned. If thinning is heavy, interior sprouts will
develop. If the plant is lightly thinned, interior
shoots are not likely to develop. This technique is
used primarily on shrubs to control size while
maintaining a natural appearance. It contrasts to
hedging or heading to the same spot on all branches
which gives a shrub a manicured, controlled
appearance. Trees can be thinned to increase light
penetration, encouraging turf growth beneath the
tree. Trees with properly thinned crowns also resist
wind damage better than unpruned trees. This is a
specialized technique best performed by a professional
arborist.

Pruning Shrubs

The first step in pruning a shrub is to remove all
dead, diseased, or injured branches. Pruning shears
and saws can be dipped in a weak alcohol solution (1


ONE YEAR


ONEYEAR










Closure (callusing) of pruning wounds on most
trees and shrubs should be most rapid if pruning is
conducted just before, or immediately following the
spring growth flush.
This is desirable because a closed wound is more
aesthetically pleasing; and insects, diseases, and decay
organisms are discouraged from entering the plant. In
addition, cold injury can be reduced if pruning is
conducted close to spring bud break. Late fall and
early winter pruning can stimulate new growth,
particularly during a mild period during the winter.
These succulent stems are not cold hardy and can
be easily damaged, even by a light frost. Low winter
temperatures can also cause cambium damage be-
neath improperly executed pruning cuts, even if
growth is not stimulated by pruning. This is
particularly true of plants which are marginally
hardy. If in doubt about cold susceptibility, it is best
to delay heavy pruning to just before growth begins
in the spring.
Some trees such as birch, maple, dogwood, elm,
and walnut bleed sap from pruned wounds if they
are pruned during late winter or early spring. This
"bleeding" is not usually harmful to the tree, but the
dripping sap is often objectionable. Trees which show
this tendency should be pruned in late fall or early
winter.

Pruning Techniques

Plants are pruned by either heading back or
thinning. Heading back (Figure 6) is the selective
cutting of terminal ends of twigs or young branches
back to an axillary bud or node. This technique
produces a denser tree or shrub because it usually
increases the number of shoots and leaves. However,
new growth is typically vigorous and upright --
developing from two to several buds just behind the
pruning cut. The new foliage may be so thick that it
shades the lower growth forming a top-heavy plant.
This can be avoided in shrubs by heading back shoots
to several different heights (Figure 7).
Heading back (stubbing) trees is rarely warranted
in landscape sites. If it is necessary, e.g., to prune
beneath power lines or to clear a tree from inter-
fering with a structure, always head back to a fork
where there is a live branch (called drop-crotching -
Figure 8). Within several months, prune out all
sprouts growing in response to the pruning cut.
Never "hat-rack" a landscape tree, i.e., cut all
branches back to about the same length without
regard for their location (Figure 9). This type of
pruning has no place in horticulture and is not


FIGURE 6. A) Heading back a young unbranched trunk will
force two to four buds back from the cut into vigorous
upright growth. Undesirable multiple leaders with
embedded bark will develop on trees from this type of
pruning; however, properly placed, these cuts can create
and maintain a nicely formed shrub. B) Growth from an
unpruned shoot will be more typical of the natural form
and more uniformly distributed along the trunk. Note the
horizontal branching habit and the desirable central leader.

recommended. When heading back trees or shrubs,
make the cut on a slight slant 1/4 inch above a
healthy bud (Figure 10). The bud should be facing
the direction preferred for new growth.
Thinning (Figure 11) is the complete removal of
branches back to lateral branches or the main trunk;
or, in shrubs, to the ground. Thinning gives a plant
an open appearance and can encourage new growth
inside the crown depending on how the plant is
thinned. If thinning is heavy, interior sprouts will
develop. If the plant is lightly thinned, interior
shoots are not likely to develop. This technique is
used primarily on shrubs to control size while
maintaining a natural appearance. It contrasts to
hedging or heading to the same spot on all branches
which gives a shrub a manicured, controlled
appearance. Trees can be thinned to increase light
penetration, encouraging turf growth beneath the
tree. Trees with properly thinned crowns also resist
wind damage better than unpruned trees. This is a
specialized technique best performed by a professional
arborist.

Pruning Shrubs

The first step in pruning a shrub is to remove all
dead, diseased, or injured branches. Pruning shears
and saws can be dipped in a weak alcohol solution (1


ONE YEAR


ONEYEAR










part to 9 parts wat-
er) to prevent the
spread of disease
between plants. Re-
move branches that
cross or touch each
other and those that A
look out of place. If
the shrub is still too
dense or large, re-
move some of the
oldest branches.
Head back excessive-
ly long branches to
a bud or lateral
branch that is 6 to
12 inches below the
desirable plant B
height. If the shrub
is 2 to 3' too tall,
heading (Figure 6)
and thinning (Figure
11) may be desir-
able. Do not use FIGURE 7. Heading back shrubs is cutting back terminal shoots to a bud or node. A) Heading
hedge shears; cut back all shoots to the same height produces a leggy, top heavy shrub. B) Heading back shoots
each branch separ- to several different levels produces a more natural, fuller looking shrub.
ately to different
lengths with hand pruners. This will maintain a neat NEW LEADER
informal shrub with a natural shape. Plants sheared
into various geometric shapes produce a formality not
suitable for many modern, natural landscapes. See
the following section on hedge pruning for a
discussion of formal pruning.
A properly pruned shrub is a work of art and
beauty and does not look as if it has been pruned.
Pruning cuts should not be visible, but located inside
the plant, covered up by remaining foliage.


Rejuvenation of Shrubs

Rejuvenation is a drastic method of pruning old
shrubs that have become much too large or have a
large amount of non-flowering wood. On single-stem
shrubs such as ligustrum and gardenia, rejuvenation
is carried out over a period of 2-3 years by severe
thinning out to the basic limb framework (Figure 12).
One-third to one-half of the old growth is removed
each year.
Multiple stem shrubs are rejuvenated by cutting
back all stems at ground level over a period of 3
years (Figure 13). Remove 1/3 of the old, mature
stems the first year. The second year remove 1/2 of
the remaining old stems and head back long shoots


FIGURE 8. Heading back trees is rarely necessary if they
were properly placed in the landscape. Heading back large
limbs is very damaging and shortens the life span of the
tree. Proper heading (called drop-crotching) in trees is
pruning back to a fork with a living branch which will
become the new leader.





















FIGURE 9. Never "hat- ,
rack" a tree by heading
back all branches to an
indiscriminate location.






growing from the previous year's pruning cuts.
Remove the remaining old wood and head back the
long new shoots in the third season.
The best time for rejuvenation is in late winter or
early spring, just before growth begins. Large, old
shrubs should not be rejuvenated during late
summer, as new growth will be stimulated and
possibly killed by cold weather in the winter.
Pruning cane-type shrubs such as nandina and
mahonia is best done on a 2- or 3-year cycle. The
tallest canes are pruned to a stub 3"-6" above the soil
line during the first spring, just as growth begins. By
the second spring, last year's medium-sized canes
have grown to become tall canes and should be cut


FIGURE 10. Proper pruning angle. A is a correct cut. B is too slanted. C is too far from the
bud. D is too close to the bud.


A B


back to a 3" stub. Canes from the first year's pruning
have already begun to grow and are one to three feet
tall by now. In the third spring, the canes which
were the shortest in the first spring are now fairly
tall and can be cut back. In this way, there is always
foliage near the ground and the shrubs can be kept
from becoming leggy. Cut nandina canes generally
will not flower during the growing season following
pruning.

Pruning Trees

The characteristic form of a tree should be known
before any live branches are removed since, in many
landscapes, little or no attempt should be made to
significantly change the characteristic growth habit
common to the species. First, prune out dead,
diseased or broken twigs and branches. After
studying the tree form, select the best spaced and
positioned permanent branches, and remove or
shorten others. Permanent branches should be spaced
between 6-24 inches apart on the trunk, depending
on the ultimate mature size of the tree. For
dogwoods, 6" spacing is adequate; whereas, for oaks,
18-24" spacing is best (Figure 14). Next, remove fast
growing suckers at the base of, and along, tree
trunks; or on large, interior limbs.
Young trees should be pruned to a single leader
(stem) after locating the straightest and best leader
to retain (Figures 1 and 15). Most trees can be
grown in this form when they are young, but the
growth habit of some species will change to a multi-
leader spreading form as they mature. There should
be no narrow forks or branches leaving the trunk at
an acute angle. Crotches of from 45 to 90 degrees
from the vertical are
less likely to split
than narrow "V"-
crotches of less than
40 degrees. Branches
with a narrow angle
of attachment should
be removed as soon
as possible (Figure
16). Any branches
which are 1/3 the
diameter of the
trunk or larger
should be removed
at once all the way
C D back to the trunk.


eb
















































FIGURE 11. A) Thinning is complete removal of branches back to a lateral or the main trunk or, in shrubs, to the ground. B)
Proper thinning of shade trees first removes branches rubbing, crossed over each other, dead, diseased or dying. If further
thinning is desired, remove branches back to major limbs to create an open crown. Space remaining branches along the major
limbs to give each room to develop. Removing upright branches creates a more spreading tree; remove horizontal branches
to create a more upright form. Grass grows better beneath thinned trees.


Figure 12. Rejuvenation on single stem and grafted shrubs is carried out by severe thinning out to the basic framework.













A B C D










year, remove 1/2 of the remaining old stems and head back long regenerated shoots from last year's growth. C) Third year,
remove the remaining old stems and head back the long new shoots. D) Growth at the end of the third season (rejuvenated
shrub).

'/











A B C D


FIGURE 14. A & B) A tree maturing at less than 30' tall before and after pruning. No two permanent major limbs should origin-
ate from the same point. Tree "A" has a bad fork which should be eliminated. Pruning the upright portion of the left fork now
will slow the growth on that branch and encourage growth in a central leader. C & D) A large-maturing tree before and after
pruning. Permanent major branches are spaced 18-24" or more along the trunk. Always encourage central leader develop-
ment. The central leader may be difficult to maintain higher than 8' from the ground in species such as live oak, royal
poinciana, and jacaranda. These can be trained with several codominant stems, spaced 24" apart.


FIGURE 15. In
forming the tree
crown, remove
lateral branches
which grow up-
right. They will
compete with
the leader and
form a weak,
multiple lead-
ered tree.


When training a young tree, prune
back branches below the lowest perma-
nent branch to about 8" from the
trunk (Figure 17); do not remove en-
tirely. Remove immediately lower
branches larger than 1/4" in diameter.
By keeping the smaller-diameter
branches on the trunk, the tree will
grow faster, develop a thicker trunk,
and the trunk will be better protected
from sun burn and vandalism. Remov-
ing the lower branches too soon will re-
sult in a poorer quality plant. When the
tree approaches 2" in diameter, remove
temporary lower branches over a 2-year
period, beginning with the largest
diameter branches.


- SHORTEN NOW....


REMOVE LATER, IF DESIRABLE.....


























FIGURE 16. Angle of branch attachment. Select branches with a wide angle to the trunk and
remove those growing in a nearly vertical position. Forked trunks are dangerous. One of the
forks should be removed as soon as it is recognized.


Removing Large Tree Branches

Large branches too heavy to be held with your
hand (those 1-1/2" or larger in diameter) require
three separate cuts to prevent trunk bark stripping.
The first cut is made on the lower side of the branch
about 15 inches away from the trunk and as far up
through the branch as possible before the branch
weight binds the saw (Figure 18). The second cut is
made downward from the top of the branch about 18
inches from the main trunk to cause the limb to split
cleanly between the two cuts without tearing the
bark. The remaining stub is easily supported with
one hand while it is cut from the tree. This cut
should begin on the outside of the branch bark ridge
and end just outside of the branch collar swelling on
the lower side of the branch (Figure 19). When bot-
tom of the branch collar is hard to see, prune as
shown in Figure 20. In this way, only branch tissue
is cut, with no damage to the trunk. The standard
practice has been to make the final cut flush with
the trunk. Research has conclusively shown that this
causes extensive trunk decay because wood is cut
which is actually part of the trunk. Flush cuts should
never be made since they injure the trunk.
Painting wounds with tree wound dressing has be-
come a controversial practice. The standard recom-
mendation was to paint wounds with a quality tree
wound dressing to protect the cut surface from wood
rotting organisms and checking (cracking) upon dry-
ing. Research has shown however that wound dress-
ings do not prevent decay. When exposed to the sun,
the protective coating often cracks, allowing moisture
to enter and accumulate in pockets between the wood
and the wound covering. This situation may be more
inviting to wood rotting organisms than one with no


wound cover, but in sit-
uations where aesthetics
are important, the prac-
tice may be justified.

Pruning Palms
Care must be taken
when pruning palms not
to cut or otherwise in-
jure the terminal bud or
the whole tree will die.
Old leaves that persist
on palms such as the
Washington palm should
be removed as they of-
ten harbor insects and


rodents, and may become a fire hazard. Remove palm
leaves by cutting them from the underside to avoid
tearing the fibers of the palm's stem.
Palms such as the Royal palm shed their heavy
leaves and if they are growing where falling leaves
may be hazardous, remove them before they drop.
Large fruits of coconut palms can be dangerous to
pedestrians and automobiles passing beneath the
palm. Prevent formation of fruits by removing the
flower stalks. Flower stalks on Christmas palm and
others can be left on the palm to take advantage of
the ornamental characteristics of the fruit.

Hedge Pruning

The method of pruning hedges depends on the type
of hedge desired. Informal hedges generally consist of
a row of closely planted shrubs which are allowed to


FIGURE 17. Prune
branches along the
lower trunk to 8-12"
long twice each year.
These temporary
branches help pro-
duce a sturdier tree
by increasing trunk
diameter and protect
the trunk from
accidental damage.
They can be removed
over a period of two
years once the tree is
two inches in
diameter. Remove a
lower temporary
branch any time it
grows larger than
1/4" diameter.


YES


























FIGURE 16. Angle of branch attachment. Select branches with a wide angle to the trunk and
remove those growing in a nearly vertical position. Forked trunks are dangerous. One of the
forks should be removed as soon as it is recognized.


Removing Large Tree Branches

Large branches too heavy to be held with your
hand (those 1-1/2" or larger in diameter) require
three separate cuts to prevent trunk bark stripping.
The first cut is made on the lower side of the branch
about 15 inches away from the trunk and as far up
through the branch as possible before the branch
weight binds the saw (Figure 18). The second cut is
made downward from the top of the branch about 18
inches from the main trunk to cause the limb to split
cleanly between the two cuts without tearing the
bark. The remaining stub is easily supported with
one hand while it is cut from the tree. This cut
should begin on the outside of the branch bark ridge
and end just outside of the branch collar swelling on
the lower side of the branch (Figure 19). When bot-
tom of the branch collar is hard to see, prune as
shown in Figure 20. In this way, only branch tissue
is cut, with no damage to the trunk. The standard
practice has been to make the final cut flush with
the trunk. Research has conclusively shown that this
causes extensive trunk decay because wood is cut
which is actually part of the trunk. Flush cuts should
never be made since they injure the trunk.
Painting wounds with tree wound dressing has be-
come a controversial practice. The standard recom-
mendation was to paint wounds with a quality tree
wound dressing to protect the cut surface from wood
rotting organisms and checking (cracking) upon dry-
ing. Research has shown however that wound dress-
ings do not prevent decay. When exposed to the sun,
the protective coating often cracks, allowing moisture
to enter and accumulate in pockets between the wood
and the wound covering. This situation may be more
inviting to wood rotting organisms than one with no


wound cover, but in sit-
uations where aesthetics
are important, the prac-
tice may be justified.

Pruning Palms
Care must be taken
when pruning palms not
to cut or otherwise in-
jure the terminal bud or
the whole tree will die.
Old leaves that persist
on palms such as the
Washington palm should
be removed as they of-
ten harbor insects and


rodents, and may become a fire hazard. Remove palm
leaves by cutting them from the underside to avoid
tearing the fibers of the palm's stem.
Palms such as the Royal palm shed their heavy
leaves and if they are growing where falling leaves
may be hazardous, remove them before they drop.
Large fruits of coconut palms can be dangerous to
pedestrians and automobiles passing beneath the
palm. Prevent formation of fruits by removing the
flower stalks. Flower stalks on Christmas palm and
others can be left on the palm to take advantage of
the ornamental characteristics of the fruit.

Hedge Pruning

The method of pruning hedges depends on the type
of hedge desired. Informal hedges generally consist of
a row of closely planted shrubs which are allowed to


FIGURE 17. Prune
branches along the
lower trunk to 8-12"
long twice each year.
These temporary
branches help pro-
duce a sturdier tree
by increasing trunk
diameter and protect
the trunk from
accidental damage.
They can be removed
over a period of two
years once the tree is
two inches in
diameter. Remove a
lower temporary
branch any time it
grows larger than
1/4" diameter.


YES










the hedge to the
ground. There are
B. / ) two important factors
Sto remember when
S, pruning formal
A I I hedges. 1) Hedges
( ( should be clipped
'i I while new growth is
/ i !( green and succulent.
2) Plants should be
trimmed so the base
of the hedge is wider
FIGURE 18. Removing a branch over 1-1/2" diameter. First cut at "A" until saw binds, then cut at "B" than the top (Figure
2-4" beyond "A" until the branch falls, then cut at "C", outside of the branch collar (see Figure 19). 21). Hedges pruned
with a narrow base


develop into their natural shape. Annual pruning
consists of thinning and heading back just enough to
maintain desired height and width.
Formal or clipped hedges require a specialized
pruning which may become a continuous job during
the growing season. The desired appearance of a for-
mal hedge is a soft outline of foliage from the top of


FIGURE 19. Correct and incorrect final pruning cut. All
branches, large and small, should be cut in this manner.
Do not cut into the branch collar. It is trunk wood and the
trunk can decay if this tissue is damaged. Begin the cut
on the outside of the branch bark ridge. This ridge is
usually rough and always darker than the surrounding bark
and is fairly obvious on most species. Angle the cut so it
ends just above the swelling (branch collar) beneath the
branch. Never make a flush cut.


will lose lower leaves and branches because of insuf-
ficient light. This condition will worsen with age re-
sulting in sparse growth at ground level and an un-
attractive hedge which does not give desired privacy.
Flowering hedges grown formally should be
sheared after they have bloomed as more frequent
shearing reduces number of blooms. If the blooms
are of secondary importance, pruning may be
conducted at any time.
Tools should be kept sharp for easier cutting with-
out injuring surrounding tissue. Injured tissues are
susceptible to disease and decay which can lead to
long-term health problems for the plant.


Figure 20. When the bottom of the branch collar is hard to
see, estimate angle A by drawing an imaginary vertical line
as shown above. Beginning on top of the branch at the
outer edge of the branch collar, make pruning cut so angle
B is the same as angle A.


---- POSITION OF CUT


..***** BOUNDARY BETWEEN TRUNK TISSUE
AND BRANCH TISSUE


WRONG


edge of branch collar


RIGHT





UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


3 1262 05588 3879


Curve blade

Curve blade


FIGURE 21. Plants pruned as
a solid hedge should be
wider at the bottom than the
top.


c I /2


6C==


Straight blade


D



^p^;=2^


FIGURE 22. Pruning tools. A) Hand pruners are used to cut branches less than 1/4" in diameter. B) Loppers are used to cut
branches up to 1/2" in diameter. C) Hedge shears are used to shear formal hedges. D) Saws are used to remove larger
branches. E) Both shears and saws are available on poles which are handy to prune difficult-to-reach branches.


This document is supported by a slide set entitled, "Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs"
available at local County Cooperative Extension Offices.
Illustrations by: Suzanne McCullough and Edward F. Gilman.


This publication was produced at a cost of $1,730.00, or 17.3 cents per copy, to inform Florida residents
about proper pruning techniques in Florida landscapes. 3-10M-90

COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, John T.
Woeste, director, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, publishes this information to further the purpose of the
May 8 and June 30, 1914 Acts of Congress; and is authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to
individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin. Single copies of extension
publications (excluding 4-H and youth publications) are available free to Florida residents from county extension offices. Information on bulk
rates or copies for out-of-state purchasers is available from C.M. Hinton, Publications Distribution Center, IFAS Building 664, University of ......
Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611. Before publicizing this publication, editors should contact this address to determine availability.


................... .




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