With every cut you are training your plant. That’s the best pruning tip I can give you, aside from the technique it’s all about the purpose behind every cut you make. Plants are extremely predictable and the most obedient and easy to train organisms on earth.
So before you use your tools, take a step back and think about what you want this plant to look like in 50 years, 30 years, 10 years, 5 years, this year and next year – in that order. Start with the end goal in mind, then work backwards to what you need to do today to achieve it.
If everyone planted a tree with the intention of that tree growing into its maturity, we would all treat our young plants very differently. You see good form and strength in a mature tree is established and then maintained from the day you plant the tree – it’s not something you do for the first time 10 years after you’ve planted it. The first 5 years are the most important pruning years.
So what are the principles we are pruning to, well here’s my list ordered from most important to least.
- Removal of suckers from base
- Correcting the overall form and shape of the plant
- Correcting to the desired size and away from hazards
- Removal of overcrowded or unwanted growth
- Removal of damaged, diseased, fused or weak growth
So why is this the best order? Well each of these points has a flow on effect. Suckers from the base of the tree if left to grow will ruin the form of the plant. Poor form makes it hard to prune to the desired shape and away from hazards, the suckers also tend to grow much faster than the rest of the tree.
With such fast growth and poor form branches become overcrowded and start rubbing and hitting each other. As branches are damaged by each other they lose their protective layer – the bark; and become susceptible to diseases.
Following these 5 points whenever you are pruning or training a plant will ensure that the plant will continue to flourish for years to come. We'll cover each of these points in greater detail in the following blogs so you have a firm understanding.