The Benefits of Pruning Trees: How Pruning Affects Tree Growth

Pruning is an essential part of caring for trees. Learn how pruning affects tree growth and why it's important for reasons of appearance and safety.

The Benefits of Pruning Trees: How Pruning Affects Tree Growth

Pruning is an essential part of caring for trees, as it can help to promote new growth and maintain the health of the plant. By removing the apex, pruning temporarily destroys apical dominance and stimulates the growth of lateral shoots into shoots. Pruning also reduces the size of the aerial part of the plant relative to the root system. When you remove branches that have problems or are not attractive, your tree can devote more resources (such as water and nutrients) to other parts of the plant, stimulating regrowth in an effort to balance the upper part of the tree with the existing root system.

Generally, you'll see new growth around cuts. It may seem counterintuitive, but pruning stimulates and directs new growth. Those who try to control the size of a tree or shrub with intensive pruning may be making the problem worse, as the plant produces many new, vigorous branches. In fact, less pruning can equal slower growth. A good rule of thumb is to remove no more than a third of a plant each year.

Removing more than that amount can cause excessive stress and an undesirable amount of regrowth, ultimately weakening the tree or shrub. Old plants that have lost their stamina may benefit from heavy renewal pruning, but younger, more alive plants can become rebellious. Trees and shrubs that haven't been cultivated from the start, or that have been neglected or improperly pruned for several years, may need more serious renewal pruning to redirect growth and restore vigor. If it blooms on old wood (growth from the previous season), prune after flowering to avoid cutting spring flowers before you have a chance to enjoy them. Cutting dead pieces is a protection, but it also encourages the growth of spurs, the part of the tree that produces fruit. Pruning at the right time and in the right way is essential, since it is possible to kill a healthy tree through neglect or excessive pruning. Pruning can help keep trees healthy and strong for many years to come.

It's important to remember that less is often more when it comes to pruning trees.

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