For most of us, there's not much going on in the garden during the winter, but actually, it's one of the best times of the year to prune trees. You see, trees have an annual cycle where energy increases and decreases and this time of the year, there's a lot of energy stored in them. So by making the cut now, the tree has the best chance of healing properly.
Whether you do the pruning yourself, or you have it professionally done, there are some techniques you'll want to follow, no matter where you live.
The first step is to determine which limbs to remove. Now you always want to remove any limbs that are dead, diseased or damaged. Now, you also may want to remove limbs that may be in the way or you may want to take them off just because it improves the looks of the tree.
This area at the base of the limb, which is called the branch collar, seems to be critical in the healing of a wound. You see, this is what actually grows over the cut and eventually seals it off, as you can see with this oak.
With this crab apple, I'll remove the biggest part of the limb down to about six inches from the trunk. I'll do this so I'll have plenty of room to make the all important cut here at the base of the branch. Now, I'm identifying the branch collar as this area of raised tissue that's slightly wrinkled next to the trunk. This is where I'll make my cut. When this limb comes off, what will be left is a raised area against the trunk and this will eventually grow over the wound and seal it off.
By pruning now rather than waiting till spring, the healing process won't be interrupted by the flush of new growth.
From the garden, I'm Allen Smith.
P. Allen Smith Gardens
© 1997 Hortus, Ltd.