Pruning in December

Pruning shears.

Pruning shears. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once your trees, shrubs, and vines have achieved full dormancy (leaves on the ground for deciduous plants, no tender new growth buds visible on evergreen plants) you can begin dormant season pruning. If you tend to experience a lot of freeze, wind, or fungal damage during the more severe part of winter it might be best to leave the pruning for later in the winter, after the majority of the damage has occurred.

Delay pruning stone fruits (cherry, peach, apricot, nectarine, and plum) until early spring, when the buds begin to swell, to minimize fungal infections in your pruning cuts. Delay pruning of Asian pears that are susceptible to pseudomonas disease until after the spring rains have ended, to minimize infection opportunity. In the Pacific Northwest that generally means summer or early fall.

If you have not yet done so, cut out old dead fruited canes from blackberries, raspberries, and related hybrids and tie in the new canes for next year. Cut everbearing raspberries and blackberries to the ground after all the fruit has been picked. New canes will grow next spring and produce fruit in the fall. You could also cut the everbearing canes to just below where they fruited this fall, leaving the lower portion of the cane to provide you with a small crop next summer.

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About Theresa Knutsen

Theresa Knutsen is a horticulturist and writes the Raintree Nursery newsletter "Growing Tips." Email: theresa@raintreenursery.com.

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