How To Prune Conifers

How To Prune Conifers

(loud swishes) (gentle guitar music) – On this segment of how
to do botanical gardens, we’re in the conifer garden here in the South Carolina Botanical Gardens. Now our conifer collection
is pretty extensive. It scatters all through the gardens, everything from our huge
redwoods in the back property to this small garden. And this garden’s theme’s pretty much about growing conifers that stay in that kind of ground-cover level up to around eight, 12 feet
tall, some a little bit bigger. Conifers in general are great plants. They kind of give you an
anchor all season long. Conifers, as a general rule, are plants that are seed-bearing,
through their cones. Most conifers have needle-like foliage. Some have kind of a scale-like foliage like this beautiful Korean Arborvitae. And by knowing your foliage, it also tells you when to prune. There’s over 600 species,
that I’m aware of, throughout the world, of conifers. Conifers as a general
rule go from subarctic almost into subtropic, so there’s a wide range of conifers that can be used in our landscapes. And there’s a lot of different cultivars, so be aware of what you’re buying. One thing I tell folks constantly when you prune is to know your plant. And with conifers, when
it comes to pruning, it’s very, very important
to know your plant. With conifers you have kind
of a fan-like type foliage like in the beautiful Arborvitae. More needle-type foliage
like this beautiful Red Cedar, which is actually blue. It’s a Callophrys Red Cedar. And knowing that tells you
when and when not to prune. Most foliage like this,
like this Arborvitae, Yews, and so forth,
you want to prune those in late spring, early summer. More of your thicker needle
stuff, like hard needles, flat needles, stuff like
Hemlocks, Spruce, Firs, even Cryptomerias, you
tend to want to prune those when they are dormant. That’s going to be late winter. Pines you even prune early spring also. And the reason being is you
want to prune that new growth. This new growth, the growth
that’s kind of flexible, you can prune that and it will can kind of callous over or initiate. If you come back in to hard
wood, this brown wood in here, when you prune that you really don’t get good regeneration from that too. When you prune, always remember that there’s a rule for
carpenters, you know, about measure twice, cut once. In a lot of ways, that’s
the way with pruning also. Think twice and cut once. So really think about what you want to do with these confers. Do you want to shape that plant up, do you need cut that limb off? You’ve got to do what
we call healthy pruning. You’ve got to cut those dead wood out, you’ve got to cut that diseased wood out. And what I like to look at too is if you’ve got a lot of cross over branches where branches are rubbing
against each other. A lot of times that
will provide open wounds for disease and insects
to enter that plant. So you want to kind of watch for that too. You know, we think of
conifers, we think of that Christmas tree form, right? And that’s true because it’s
got a empirical dominance or a main leader in there. But not all confers are like that. Like this beautiful Korean Arborvitae. So with this plant what
you want to think about is just kind of come
through and lightly prune, and it’s really, when you
prune not just Conifers but most anything, if you
can come through there and do a light prune over a period of time you’re far much better off that way. So with conifers, what I like to do with these type of confers especially, is kind of come through
and just lightly prune out where ever I need to to kind of get it back into shape, so to speak. You can rejuvenate some conifers too. Now, all conifers like to be rejuvenated. So there again, it’s
important to know your plant. The right plant for the right place. You know, as gardeners
we tend to think the most important tools that we have are these pruners or a shovel. Well actually, the most important tool that we have is the internet. There is no reason why we shouldn’t know everything about these plants
that we’re trying to grow. So, with that in mind, remember always, think twice, cut once. (gentle guitar music)

5 Replies to “How To Prune Conifers”

  1. 0 comments how is that? this is a very good introduction to pruning. I am in Australia Sydney area and have what I call large Thujas They are a little overgrown and some out of shape I want them like a wall facing my yard else with their natural A shape. I'd say they are around 4 m in height and 3 in width. I read that you can't cut passed the green and flexible limbs. Is there a way then to get the shape back? And as for the top I would like to reduce some too?

  2. I have 5 cedar deodura trees that are overlapping and touching each other at the bases.When is the best time to prune these trees? I enjoying the draping and sweeping graces of these trees, which I would like to continue from the bases of these trees.

  3. Hi, I have a very young blue spruce (70 cm tall) being attacked by rhizosphaera needle cast. Can I just prune the affected branches?

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