Pruning and Pinching
Pruning means cutting away unwanted shoots and branches. It encourage; 'new growth, which bears more flowers and fruits, and also keeps the plants in shape. Different trees and shrubs have different requirements and the evergreens hardly, need any pruning, since they make many new shoots anyway.
As a general rule, pruning deciduous shrubs and trees is best done when the plant is dormant (winter) as this would cause least disturbance to plant chemistry. So prune just before spring when new shoots and leaves would begin to emerge. Pruning then would also ensure that the entire growing season would be available to the plant to make sufficient new shoots.
Fast-growing shrubs and climbers, however, can be pruned practically any time as required, if flowers are not the objective. If flowers are needed, then pruning should be resorted to at the end of the flowering season.
Slow-growing shrubs like the magnolia and calliandra do not respond favorably to pruning. Also avoid pruning hibiscus, gardenia, bauhinia and jatoropha.
While pruning, remove all dead stems and branches Interlaced branches should also be removed to provide more light to the remaining branches. Always cut above a node (knotty bud) tending to grow in an outward direction. Usually a pair of branches emerge from such a node or the new shoots come out of the "lower nodes or both. This aspect is utilized when shaping trees for bonsai.
Pruning is sometimes done to divert more sap energy to limited zones of a few flowers or fruits in order to get bigger and better results. If wounds inflicted on the plants due to pruning become fungus, infected, especially in humid weather, patch up with coal tar or brush with a solution of copper sulphate, which is a fungicide.
Pinching is similar to pruning, only in this case it is the growing tips that are pinched off (literally). Branching commences below that point and the result is increased bushiness, with many more side shoots on the stems. More shoots mean more flowers and a shorter plant. Many flowering annuals are treated in this' manner. Suggestions are given with individual plant details.
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