Pruning is the essential art of living with plants in and around our homes. We share the same space, and for fruiting trees and shrubs, we also want healthy produce that we don’t have to climb a ladder to pick!
Asking plants to live within our confined urban spaces means recognizing their inherent potential and vigor to naturally outgrow our gardens and homes. And so as caregivers, who love seeing healthy plants, we ask what priorities, observations and knowledge do the plants present to us so that we can anticipate where and when to prune - how do we achieve that balance?
A familiar model is the art of Bonsai, which shows us how trees that would normally be full-size and live for hundreds of years, instead remain small and healthy due to consistent and timely pruning of both their roots and shoots, enabling them to live a thousand years.
There are several guiding principles by which we can demystify pruning and thus feel able to enjoy gently shaping the growth of our shrubs and trees.
In a temperate climate such as southern Ontario, pruning should only be done in early spring and in fall/winter. The method of pruning during each of these periods varies because the plants’ needs are different.
Photo credit: RHS