Pruning is a horticultural practice that involves the selective removal of certain parts of a plant, like branches, buds, or roots. The reasons for pruning plants include shaping, deadwood removal, maintaining health, improving health, reducing risk from falling branches and both harvesting and increasing the quality of flowers and fruits.

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Pruning entails targeted removal of damaged, diseased, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or unwanted tissue from crop and landscape plants.

It is usually preferable to make any necessary formative structural pruning cuts to young plants, instead of removing large, poorly placed branches from mature plants.

Also, it is important when pruning that the tree’s limbs are kept intact, as this is what helps the tree stay upright.

Types of pruning

Irrespective of the various names used for types of pruning, there are only two basic cuts.

One cuts back to an intermediate point which is called heading back cut, while the other cuts back to some point of origin, called thinning out cut.

Heading-back cut: this involves the removal of a portion of a growing stem down to a set of desirable buds or side-branching stems.

Heading back cut is commonly performed in well trained plants for a number of reasons, for instance to stimulate growth of flowers, fruit or branches, performed as a preventative measure to wind and snow damage on long stems and branches, and also to encourage growth of the stems in a desirable direction.

Thinning out cut: this is a more drastic form of pruning which involves the removal of an entire shoot, limb, or branch at its point of origin.

It is usually employed to revitalize a plant by removing weak, over-mature, problematic, and excessive growths.

Thinning encourages the formation of new growth that will more readily bear fruit and flowers when performed correctly.

This is a common technique used in pruning roses or for renewing shrubs with multiple branches.

Topping: this is a very severe form of pruning. It involves removing all branches and growths down to a few large branches or even to the trunk of the tree.

When performed correctly, it is used on very young trees, and can also be used to begin training younger trees for pollarding.

Deadheading: deadheading is the act of removing spent flowers or flowerheads for aesthetics.

This is done to prolong bloom for up to several weeks or promote rebloom. Also, it can be done to prevent seeding.

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