Pruning—your best advice for beginners

Pruning can encourage and sustain a plant's healthy growth, and we know there are newbie gardeners out there who would love to master this skill. From timing to techniques to tools, what advice would you share with someone learning the basics?

Emily Kochman


AntoniaJames August 31, 2021
Early and often, for tomatoes and any herb; those are what I'm most familiar with - other than blueberry bushes, for which I hired a professional, which was worth every penny (I had 17 bushes).

Other tips for herbs: prune from the top, prune close to where the leaf meets the stem, and only clip, never tear, the stem. Also, stop pruning about 8 weeks before the first frost. This gives the herb time to harden a bit before winter.

Here's an article on the subject which I found to be quite helpful: ;o)
Gammy May 21, 2021
Realize that best pruning practices can vary from species to species, and consider that simply pinching back and deadheading can be part of pruning, too. I would search out a Master Gardener group or Cooperative Extension Service in your area to learn from the best. They usually have a number to call with gardening questions and may offer classes on popular local subjects.
Emily K. May 21, 2021
This is great advice, thanks for sharing Gammy!
702551 May 23, 2021
Gammy's right.

Pruning Vitis vinifera (wine grape) is going to be different than Solanum lycopersicum (tomato). Different approaches will apply not only based on species but also the objective.

Note that when one prunes a grapevine for wine grapes, the pruning choice affects *TWO* seasons of growth. There are different approaches whether or not the vine is meant to be head-trained or cordon spur-trained. For sure grape varietals destined for table grapes (like Thompson seedless) will have remarkably different decisions than young Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon vines or old-vine carignane.

And let's not forget bonsai... :o)
Emily K. May 25, 2021
Thank you so much for sharing this information, 702551!
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