Pruning? Try it. You’ll like it!

The basics of ornamental gardening? Water and weed. Oh, and prune, the gardening chore that usually goes undone, to the detriment of our shrubs and trees. But I’ve taught lots of people to prune and once they’re shown how, they love it. I know it’s scary and intimidating at first and truly, you can kill your favorite plants with mistaken pruning. To avoid that, start on the plants you can hardly kill for trying — forsythia, butterfly bush, weigela, acuba, spirea, and so on, all shrubs with multiple stems. And when in doubt, Google the “prune spirea” or whatever the plant. The Internet is amazing that way (just read more than one source.) And stay away from conifers until you’re experienced.

Here’s my blog story about a gardener who really took to pruning. And here’s another one.

Articles about Pruning

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Books and DVDs about Pruning

  • I’ve viewed and can highly recommend Fine Gardening Magazine’s DVD about pruning (though if you’d rather not spend the $25, most of it can be found on their website). Over on GardenRant I reviewed it and asked the bigger question: How DO you teach pruning? Commenters’ suggestions are included here.
  • Ann Lovejoy, a gardening mentor of mine and contributor to this website, loves Guide to Pruning by Cass Turnbull.  Regional Garden Guru Debby Teachout-Treashon also recommends it.
  • My long-time manual has been Pruning Made Easy by Peter McHoy.  He teaches 9 different types of pruning, then provides an index telling which type to use with every plant you can think of.  The types relate to the way each plant grows, and it all begins to make sense.  (Though nothing really makes sense til you’ve done it and seen plants respond.)
  • The Pruning Book by Lee Reich is another that comes highly recommended, and he’s a frequent contributor to Fine Gardening magazine on the subject. And here’s his article about pruning on this website, adapted from the book.

Stuff on the Web that Costs $$

  • Plant Amnesty.org was recommended to me and I was surprised to learn that it’s a membership organization, and information comes with a pricetag, which starts at $15/year (for “limited income”) through $120 (“Tree Defender” and who doesn’t want to be one of those?) to $500 lifetime.  Sure, their 900+ members get a newsletter, but suddenly I realize it’s not a vitual community at all but very much an in-person group in the Seattle area. Their programs include free consultations, teaching events of all kinds, letter-writing against tree topping, and social events. And it turns out that Cass Turnbull, the guru of pruning whose book is so loved, actually founded the organization.  Boy if they were in MY city, I’d definitely join.  Someday…