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Winter Pruning Primer

Winter Prune trees and shrubs, both ornamentals and fruit

 What is winter pruning? Pruning deciduous plants in the winter promotes fast regrowth in the spring, as most plants are dormant during the winter. It's also easier to see the shape of deciduous plants in the winter, since their foliage is gone. When pruning:
First prune out dead and diseased branches. 
2.Cut back branches that have grown over where you walk or mow so they don't break off.
3. Where you see two branches crossing, prune off the smaller one.
4.Thin branches judiciously to allow sunlight and air into the center of trees and shrubs. Starting at the center and moving to the exterior, thin the branches that make up the dense mass of a tree or shrub. Your purpose is to increase air circulation through the branches and to accentuate the structure of the plant. Never remove more than one-quarter of a plant in a season since that will encourage sucker growth. Thinning is especially important for trees such as crabapples and hawthorns, which are susceptible to fungal diseases.
5.Work slowly, taking plenty of breaks to step back and look. Is the tree balanced? Does it look symmetrical? Know when to stop; you don't want to hollow out the center. You can always go back and take more off, but you can't put it back on.
6.Always prune back to a bud or a branch. Never leave a stub or the kind of open ends that result from shearing off the top of a plant. Open ends can create dense horizontal sucker-type growth that ruins the natural branching habit, or they can cause dieback and disease. Cut an undesirable branch just above a bud, keeping in mind that a new branch will grow from that bud. Ideally, the bud should face outward, so the branch will grow toward the exterior of the plant.

Cut some branches for forcing indoors
Forcing spring bloomers is an easy task. The hardest part is probably getting yourself outside in the cold, snowy weather.

When to Cut Your Branches? Many spring flowering trees and shrubs require a period of cold dormancy in order to bloom. It depends on the weather each season, but by mid-January, most spring bloomers have had sufficient cold to allow forcing them into bloom indoors. Cut the branches on a warm day, look for plump buds. Flower buds are rounder and larger than leaf buds. Cut the branches on an angle or smashing the bottoms of the branches gently will make it much easier for them to take up water. Be sure to make them long enough to stand out of the vase your using for an impressive display.

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