Pruning Ornamental Plants

What is Pruning? The removal of growth from a plant to maintain its health and vigor, regulate its shape, and control flowering and fruiting.Why do we Prune? To remove dead, diseased, or damage wood; to improve and maintain health and appearance. To reduce risk of branch and stem breakage. Sometimes, we must prune plants that are planted too close to buildings, walkways, or driveways that interfere with traffic flow. Pruning trees can be one of the most beneficial or one of the most detrimental maintenance practices for a tree. When pruning is done correctly, it can extend a tree’s life, increase its valve in in the landscape, and minimize liability problems for its owner. Improper pruning can cause a host of structural and biological problems that lead to decrease a tree’s life, and cause pest and decay issues. Once you establish a reason for pruning, it’s important to know the three T’s for proper pruning: 1. Using the right TOOL for the pruning task, (2) Using the correct TECHNIQUE to accomplish your objective, (3) and pruning at the right TIME to minimize cold damage or to avoid removing flower buds.


Hand Pruner: For cuts pencil size or smaller, use hand pruners. There are two basic types of hand pruners; scissor-cut pruners and anvil-cut pruners. Scissor-cut pruners are better for herbaceous stems since the anvil-cut shears tend to crush the tissue.

Loppers, or lopping shears: are used to cut branches larger than a pencil up to two inches in diameter.

Hand and Chain Saws: are ideal for larger branches that are over 2 to 3 inches in diameter. A carpenter saw should not be substituted for a pruning saw. Pruning saws generally have coarser teeth than carpenter saws and are designed to cut on both the pull stroke and push stroke for greater cutting efficiency.

Pole Pruners: are used to remove tree limbs and branches beyond reach from ground level. Please note that hedge shears are for formal edges only.

When to Prune: Major pruning of deciduous trees is done during the winter time. During winter, the tree has no leaves and it’s easier to see the limb arrangement and determine where to make cuts.

Spring vs. Summer Flowering: Pruning time is important for flowering plants in the landscape. Some ornamental plants bloom during the spring and some during the summer. Generally, most spring-flowering plants set their flower buds the previous fall, so you would wait until after they bloom in spring to prune them. Otherwise, if you prune before they bloom, you will be removing flower buds. On the other hand, summer-flowering plants bloom on new growth of the season and would be pruned in late winter before new growth begins.

For more information on pruning ornamental plants, you are invited to register to attend the UF/IFAS Extension Osceola Pruning and Chainsaw Maintenance workshop February 12, 2019. You may register at: For all your horticulture questions contact Grantly Ricketts at or 321-697-3000.


Posted: December 14, 2018

Category: Home Landscapes, Horticulture,

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories