Trimming and Pruning Plants

In South Florida, we experience a virtually continuous growing season. Pruning plants year-round is one of the best ways to ensure that your landscaping looks fresh and healthy.

There are four major reasons to prune your plants: to maximize flower or fruit production, to direct the plant’s growth or shape, to alter the appearance of the plant, and to keep the plant healthy. Here are some tips as to how to best go about it.

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Why is Pruning Plants Important?

Bushes and shrubs that aren’t correctly maintained with pruning can grow tall and “leggy”, or may get oversized and bushy. Unfortunately, eventually even the most beautiful plant is bound to grow a bit ugly if not trimmed and pruned (imagine never getting a haircut throughout your life!).

Pruning selectively removes branches from a plant in order to help it to continue to grow in a healthy and uniform manner. You’ll want to remove all the dead, diseased, or broken branches from the plant, as these are hindering the proper flow of nutrients and water to the healthy parts of the plant.

You can also keep the main stem healthier by trimming back secondary branches. As the main stem provides necessary nutrients to the plant as a whole, it shouldn’t be overtaxed with lengthy, leggy branches. Proper pruning also makes bushes more resistant to hurricane damage, especially the larger varieties.

Did You Know? After pruning plants, you can shred the branches for compost or natural mulch. If you have a thick hedge or wooded area, you can pile the clippings up underneath and they will naturally decompose, which is good for the environment in many ways.

Pruning Palm Trees

If you are new to Florida, pruning a palm tree may be a foreign concept. However, palm trees are common in Sarasota and Tampa area residential landscaping and some do need to be maintained.

Not all palm trees require pruning, however. For those palm varieties that do require cleaning up, homeowners should invest in a pole saw, which can be used to remove any dead or brown fronds. When it comes to pruning plants, palm trees generally need less attention than you would think. Green fronds are healthy, and contrary to popular belief, do not need to be removed prior to a hurricane. Palm trees are made to naturally withstand hurricane force winds, and don’t need human assistance to do so.

Note that some palm trees have very sharp spikes which can be quite painful, and are known to pierce through skin easily. If you are pruning plants and palm trees, it is always recommended that you wear sturdy gardening gloves and long sleeves, as well as long pants. Handle palm fronds with care.

Which Pruning Tool is Right for the Job?

  • Pruning shears are utilized for shrubs, flowers, vines and small growth on trees. They are hand-held and can cut branches and twigs less than an inch thick.
  • Loppers are appropriate for branches up to 2 ½ inches thick, generally fruit trees, nut trees, and vines. This tool has thick blades and a long handle for leverage.
  • Pruning saws can handle branched up to 5 inches thick.
  • Hedge shears, as the name would imply, are perfect for hedges, small shrubs, evergreens, or deadheading perennials.
  • Pole saws and pole pruners can typically reach 8 foot overhead, often eliminating the need for a ladder. Still, they are intended for light pruning, such as dead branches or fronds. For more robust work which requires a ladder, most homeowners should consider a professional service.

Big Earth Landscape Supply is your one stop shop for everything you need to keep your lawn and garden beautiful. From fertilizer to the perfect pair of pruning shears – you can count on us. Visit us at any one of our 4 Tampa area locations.