Improper Pruning Techniques – 9 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Pruning certain trees and shrubs helps increase vigor and protect from disease while improving flower and fruit production. However, doing it right may pose some difficult challenges.

So, what mistakes should you be aware of and avoid at all costs? Here are some of them:

  • Picking the wrong time to prune
  • Improper pruning time
  • Pruning the trees too much
  • Pruning in the wrong place
  • Using dirty pruning tools
  • Pruning at the wrong angle
  • Forgetting to prune out the canker and removing the dieback

Also, Tree health and pruning can have many benefits, including reducing the risk of tree failure, improving the appearance of the tree, and increasing the tree’s lifespan.

improper pruning
Improper Pruning

Let’s discuss 9 common mistakes in detail you that should remember when pruning.

Pruning Mistakes to Avoid

While pruning plants, there are several factors you need to consider. For example, the pruning technique and time can vary a lot depending on the plants you are growing and the technique you are using them to grow. 

Thus, you will need to extensively research before pruning different plants. Otherwise, you may face different problems. Wrongly pruning your plants may impair the growth of your plants as well as impair flower and fruit growth.

Here are the factors you will need to keep a close eye on while pruning:

  1. Pruning During the Wrong Season

The rule of thumb for pruning is that it’s often conducted during the winter as they are dormant during that time. However, for some plants, the pruning season can be different. 

For example, some trees like palm and cherry can develop silver leaf disease if pruned in the winter. Therefore, these trees are pruned during summer to reduce the risk of infestation.

Flowering shrubs are pruned right after flowering, and grapevines strictly need to be pruned during December and January. The plant will bleed sap and lose its strength if grapevines are pruned during hot temperatures. Eventually, the plant can die.

Thorough research helps you find the right time to prune and can help you avoid several pruning mistakes, even the potential death of plants.

  1. Pruning Plants More than Necessary

When you are pruning your plants, you are removing the stems and leaves of a plant. These two tree components are important as they are two primary sources of food for plants.

Leaves help plants to make food and stem store carbohydrates to consume later. If you are pruning too much, the plants will not generate enough food. Therefore, the roots of the plant may die and take years to recover from this damage. 

  1. Pruning Plants at the Wrong Place

While pruning, you need to ensure that you are pruning at the right place, which means you need to prune above the node of the branches.

The node is the place where shoots and buds emerge from the stem. If you don’t prune the above node, your plant can “dieback.”

When you prune plants above nodes, you can manipulate new stem growth, flowers, and leaves to form in the desired direction. 

Generally, the branches in the periphery of the trees are pruned to shape the entire plant. Make the cut right above a growing point of the soil line. Don’t keep branches or stem stubs. Otherwise, the tree’s natural shape gets compromised, and the plant becomes prone to diseases.

While pruning, avoid cutting too close to the node as it can get damaged. However, don’t leave more than 1 cm above the nodes. It can compromise the shape of your plant.

  1. Using Dirty Pruning Tools

While pruning, you need to use good-quality pruning tools. You will need to keep your pruning tools clean and well-oiled. Well-oiled and sharp pruning tools last longer, function better, and are safer to use than blunt and dirty ones.

Blunt tools will not make clean cuts. Messy cuts will take longer to heal and can make your plant vulnerable to diseases. 

You can use alcohol to keep your pruning tools disinfected. Any disinfecting material available at your home, like rubbing alcohol, can be used to keep your pruning tools disinfected. If you want, you can get ethanol or isopropyl alcohol to keep your pruning tools safe for your plants.

Alcohol helps disinfect tools without soaking them for longer. Simply wiping or dipping the alcohol can help disinfect the tools completely.

Once you have used your pruning tools, make sure to clean them properly and disinfect them. Otherwise, your pruning tools can spread disease to your plants.

  1. Pruning Plants at a Wrong Angle

Use a downward angle while pruning your plants. This helps in removing water from the pruned area. Generally, you should consider pruning the plants at a 45-degree angle.

If you cut your plants flat, water can stand still in the wounded area of your plant. When water pools at the wounded area of your plants, it creates the perfect environment for fungal growth. Therefore, your plants will be vulnerable to fungal infection.

  1. Avoiding to Remove ‘Suckers’

Many trees and shrubs show sucker growths from their root system. These suckers make the plants heavy and out of control.

The suckers of these plants help the plants to yield more fruits. But the new stems of the plants will have to compete for getting enough nutrients with those ‘suckers.’ Therefore, the plants will produce smaller fruit and will require more effort to stake.

When these suckers are removed, the plants become more compact and you will get bigger fruits from your plants. However, the plants will produce less fruit throughout the season.

Thus, you will need to find the right balance of pruning ‘suckers’ so your plants produce bigger fruits, stays compact, and produce enough fruits during the season.

  1. Not Using the Right Tools for Pruning

Pruning requires the right tools to promote plant growth and keep them looking good. When you don’t use the right tools, pruning can get harder and may not be up to standard.

When you don’t use the right tools for pruning, you may miss some important aspects of the pruning process. Here are five must-have tools you should collect to prune your plants properly.

  • Pruning shears
  • Loopers
  • Pruning saws
  • Hedge shears
  • Pole pruner

Without these tools, your pruning job will be harder, and your plants may not look as good as you want them to be.

  1. Not Pruning out Canker

Your plants can be affected by “Canker,” an airborne bacterial infection. This bacteria infects trees in the Prunus genus through damaged wood.

You will need to prune your plants at the earliest possible time you see any sign of this condition. It will help in prolonging the vigor and lifespan of your plants. Not paying proper attention can shorten the plant’s lifespan.

  1. Not Remove Dieback

Bad planting, pruning, physical damage, and frost damage are four possible causes of dieback. Even bunches rubbed together can cause physical damage, and as a result, the plant may die back.

Also, fungi can be developed in dead shoots and cause canker. Cranker can spread to other parts of the plant and weaken the whole plant. Therefore, you will need to prune out diebacks as soon as possible to help the healthy growth of your plants.

Also Read: If you’re looking for tips on how to stay safe while trimming trees, look no further! Our professional experts have put together a list of the top tree trimming safety tips to help you with your work. From choosing the right equipment to following proper safety procedures, we’ve got you covered.

Importance of Pruning

Pruning helps your plant’s natural growth. With pruning, you can give your plants desired shape and help them thrive. 

Proper pruning is important to remove dead or dying branches, as well as branches that are rubbing against each other, and keep your plants healthy and looking their best. When you prune a plant, you are essentially giving it a haircut. This encourages new growth and allows you to shape the plant to your desired specifications. Therefore, your plant can have enough room for new growth. You can effectively protect your plants from insects, fungi, and animal infestation by regularly pruning them.

Bigger trees often have hanging branches that can damage your property and endanger the lives of passersby. With pruning, you can minimize these dangers as well.

In a nutshell, pruning helps your plants to grow properly while ensuring safety for you and others around you. If you don’t prune your trees, it can damage your plants, hamper their growth, and can cause property damage.

Hire a Professional

Pruning trees is an important part of taking care of your plants. However, if you are not careful enough, you can make some crucial mistakes that may impair your plants’ growth for years to come. When you do improper pruning of trees, it can result in weak and unsightly growth, and even damage the tree.

Therefore, you should consider consulting a professional to prune your trees. Our professionals will help your plants look phenomenal while maintaining all the standard tree management and care measures.

At Atlas Tree, we have been conducting our business in Northern California for more than 40 years, and our professionals are eager to help you with their expertise; call (800) 478-7966. See what we can offer!

Bottom Line

Pruning trees is important to ensure the healthy growth of plants. However, improper pruning wrongly can cause more harm than good. Therefore, you will need to know all the right practices for pruning beforehand.

If you don’t feel confident about pruning your tree, you can find professional pruners to help you prune your tree. Take the best measures to help your plant grow strongly and beautifully.

Frequently Ask Questions

What is improper pruning?

Cutting too close to the nodes or too far from the trunk is referred to as improper pruning. It can cause irreversible damage to your plants.

What types of pruning are often done?

Thinning cuts, reduction cuts, and heading cuts are often done to prune a plant. Each cut offers different results for a plant’s appearance and growth.

When should you avoid pruning trees?

Don’t prune your trees during the scorching heat of summer. However, the type of plant and growing techniques also play important roles in determining the time of pruning trees.