Quotes: Pruning

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When the advice comes from one who's grown and observed all over the continent and beyond, we listen. Author and tree/shrub guru to millions, this is Michael Dirr conducting a tree identification class at Harvard's Arnold Arboretum. 

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The tight pruning results in the formation of green meatballs, cubes, rectangles and other odd shapes.

- Michael A. Dirr -  
see What's Coming Up #80  



If you cut a shrub back because it's just too big, and it dies, you haven't lost anything but a plant that couldn't live by your rules.

- Janet Macunovich-
see What's Coming Up #35


If a bush is too big, don't ask "should I?" Go ahead and cut it. If it lives, great. If it dies, replace it with something better suited.

- Janet Macunovich -
see What's Coming Up #87 and What's Coming Up #178


Bushes? Like hair! They grow back. Stop worrying about it!

- Frances Kissinger -  
see What's Coming Up #169  

Right: Sometimes we might even wish a plant would   
die rather than come back. When smoke bush   
Cotinus coggygria) is pollarded -- cut to bare stubs --   
every year for a decade, it develops a gnarly appearance   
some would rather not see, even for the few   
weeks between cut back and grow-over.  


They waited until he went out of town
and then they thinned the trees.
He didn't notice for nearly a month.

- Janet Macunovich -
see What's Coming Up #135


Fewer flowers after you prune hard? Maybe. Temporarily. Small loss to bear for a big gain in size control!

- Janet Macunovich -

Viburnums bloom in spring on wood that developed its flower buds the previous summer. Remove branch tips before bloom time and you do reduce the total number of flowers the shrub will bear that year. You will not affect the bloom of remaining buds.


If you can see that it was pruned, you did something wrong.

- Virginia Smith, words from her grandmother back in the 1920's -
See Proof of gardening at conifer clip


If you need a saw to prune a tree, you waited too long. Clippers are always better than a saw.

- Mike Loncar -
See Clippers better than saw


He carries a knife, curved like a crane's bill and sharpened to a deadly edge, and this he whips out to prune a dwarf fruit tree in minutes. "Mind you, don't leave a stump; cut your branch right to the bone."

- Eleanor Perényi, Green Thoughts, 1981 -
(speaking of the imaginary perfect gardener
in her history of unfortunate helpers)

TreePrung6396s.jpg TreePrung6393s.jpg

  SapwoodStainedN6333s.jpg The best pruning is invisible. If what
   you cut out are bad branches, no one
   misses them. 

- Virginia Holman -
See Clippers better than saw


   Always distrust branches with staining
   in the sapwood -- those rings from
   previous years' growth.
   When you see it, wipe your cutting blades with
    peroxide, bleach or alcohol and cut again,
    farther down until your cut leaves clean wood.

    Bacterial stain in Wisteria. 

Okay, I pruned that rose.

I see. Now go back and prune it more!

- Pro gardeners Mary Wente-Lindsay and Julia Dingle,
learning each others' pruning technique -