I took a pruning class at Bullington Gardens taught by John Murphy this week. It was a great class with lots of demonstrations on trees so that we could see what he was talking about. While one class does not an expert make, here are a few tips I learned in this class:
+ Japanese maples -- remove the branches heading towards the middle of the tree, or rubbing on another branch. Remove all dead branches.
+ Angled cut? Use an 'angled cut' for roses, but for tree branches use a 'straight cut.' The angled cut will crush the branch and the tree will need to expend energy to heal it.
+ Rhododendrons -- Do NOT prune them during the winter! They should be pruned immediately (within three weeks) after they stop blooming. Use a three year cycle and prune about 1/3 of the shrub each of those three years. Ever wonder about the branches that look 'dead'? If you prune a dead looking branch and it has 'root rot' (you can tell by the way the the inner part of the cut branch looks) be sure to wipe your pruning blades with alcohol before you cut another branch or you will transfer the root rot from one branch to another.
+ Painting after pruning -- this old practice of painting over the 'wound' of a pruned tree should NOT be done.
+ When pruning a branch you should not cut down to the trunk itself, but rather to the 'collar,' keeping the collar intact. [ Wikipedia provides a good explanation of a branch collar: A branch collar is the often visible swelling in a woody plant that forms at the base of a branch where it is attached to its parent branch or to the tree's trunk. The top of the branch collar consists of dense interlocking wood grain.] Collar on cherry tree shown below.
Ruthie photographs trees because she loves them.