Gardening is the last thing on anyone’s mind in the winter. The reality is that, as far as many deciduous plants are concerned, this is the ideal time for pruning. Whether it’s a tree, shrub, or vine, there’s a perfect period over this season for getting them in order. While winter pruning isn’t for every plant, especially evergreens, it does have the following benefits for many.
*Insect and Disease Protection
*Energy for Healing
*Less Unhealthy Growth
*Clear View of Plant Structure
*Reduced Secondary Damage
*Winter Stress Relief
Insect and Disease Protection
Pruning trees and other woody plants during the growing season guarantees free-flowing sap that signals insect pests that there’s a vulnerable plant to attack. As if the invading bugs weren’t enough, many of them carry infectious agents with them. Bacteria and fungus can also gain entry through the fresh cuts on their own. This is particularly true for trees like oaks, elms, crabapples, and honey locusts. The great advantage of an Ann Arbor Michigan winter is that it forces these threats to go dormant.
Energy for Healing
Once the growing season is underway, sap carries sugars and nutrients through the branches for leaf production. During the period after the leaves have dropped while there’s still sap flowing, the plant can engage in some winter maintenance by focusing energy on repairing exposed areas caused by pruning.
Less Unhealthy Growth
Another undesirable result of summer pruning are water sprouts. This is particularly true when branches aren’t cut back to the nearest bud. Water sprouts are straight branches growing at right angles to the main branch they emerge from. Along with giving a tree or shrub an unnatural shape, they weigh down limbs and increase the risk of breakage.
Clear View of the Work
In winter, there are no leaves obscuring the work. For ornamental plants, this allows the gardener to see how things need to be reshaped to achieve the desired look. For fruit-bearing trees, shrubs, and vines, a clear view of excess growth that drains energy from fruit production.
Reduced Secondary Damage
The area around woody plants contains grass and even perennial flowers. The more time spent standing around a tree or shrub means more trampling of these smaller plants. Performing the work while they’re dormant helps protect them from the additional foot traffic.
The growing season is a busy time in the garden. There’s more than enough to do in summer without adding pruning to the list. With lots of free time, a long Ann Arbor Michigan winter offers an opportunity to take on the task of pruning when there are few other distractions.
Winter Stress Relief
Winter in Ann Arbor Michigan can be a depressing, lethargic time if there’s nothing of interest to do. Pruning can supply a nice bit of exercise during a cold, dark time of the year. Thinking about the rewards to reap from this winter maintenance chore provides the motivation while lifting the spirit.