Pruning plants keeps them healthy and shapely

Pruning. You stand in front of the shrub, shaking hands clutching the shears. Where to start? What if I clip off too much? Maybe I'll just leave it...
Actually, pruning doesn't have to be scary. Unless you are severely brutal, like the arboreal version of a slasher movie villain, you are unlikely to do irreparable damage.
QUESTION: "I planted about 8 Knockout roses last spring. They did nicely through the summer and fall. What do I need to do to get them ready for another good year?" - Bob B.
ANSWER: This is a good time of year to prune those roses. Clip out all dead, broken and damaged branches, and those that are crossing, and touching. Once that is accomplished, you can decide if you want to take any off the top as this is when you can shape your rose shrubs.
If you want to apply any fertilizer to them, this would also be the time. I should say that, better than fertilizer, you can put a fresh supply of aged compost around the base of each one (leaving a well area at the base of the plant so that the trunk doesn't touch the compost).
They don't require deadheading, but I always clip the tops of the plants back around the latter part of July. They flush out beautifully for the last part of summer and early fall. Enjoy those beautiful Knockout roses!
QUESTION: "We planted Sunburst Honeylocust trees 2 and 3 years ago. They have had very rapid growth this season. The problem is this. The new growth is growing so fast that it is getting a weeping form with branches weeping too low to the ground. If I remove the entire branch it will really become top heavy. Even the top branches of the leader steam are weeping - a lot.
"From what I have read, I don't want to tip the tree branches, but how do I trim the top heavy weeping from a young Honeylocust without completely removing the branch? There aren't that many branches on the tree so I don't really want to remove any. They are all weeping but the lowest and the highest are the most bothersome. It appears that the new young growth is so soft it cannot support its own length. What do I do? I'm afraid they won't make it through the winter without substantial breakage if I leave them the way they are." -- Alysia Iosty
ANSWER: This one should be fairly simple. When removing the lower branches just remember the fewer branches for growth, the more energy will go into what is left. If the lower branches need to be removed because of the need to mow under the tree or just for esthetics I would simply go ahead and remove them.
The top leader is the only one to be concerned with, but again, not that much! You can take a ladder if necessary, go to the top part of the tree and snip back right above the bud where you will top the tree. The following season, it will create another top leader but by doing this you will cause it to do more branching down below. This is more desirable in the overall appearance and strength of the tree. Side branches can be trimmed the same way back to where it is not weeping. Trimming will make it a more desirable tree.
QUESTION: "Our hostas have holes in their leaves! They appear to be eaten by a bug. Any recommendations on what we should do?" -- Pat Smith ANSWER: From what you tell me, an educated guess would be that the culprits are the common garden variety of slugs. We also have them. You can find molluscicides at many garden centers, but a popular home remedy is a bowl of beer. Slugs are attracted to the beer, get in the bowl and drown. Use a container that slugs would find easy to climb into.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org
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Pruning:
http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/tree_pruning/index.html
Sincerely, John A. Keslick, Jr. Consulting Arborist http://home.ccil.org/~treeman and www.treedictionary.com Beware of so-called tree experts who do not understand tree biology. Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss.
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