Broadleaf and Narrowleaf Evergreens

Conifers, broadleaf and narrow-leaf evergreens may be pruned any time the wood is not frozen. A good time to prune evergreens is in early December so prunings can be used to make holiday decorations.

These plants are primarily pruned to increase the density of the foliage or to reduce the size of the plant. Conifers have lateral branches that arise from the trunk in whorls or as random shoots. Preformed latent buds in the terminal determine the number of branches. Few conifers have latent buds below the foliage area on old wood. When these plants are pruned back to the older wood, there are no new buds to break and generate new foliage. Pine, spruce, fir, dawn redwood, Cryptomeria and cypress have few, if any, buds on old wood. Juniper and yew have numerous buds in the foliage but few on older wood. Therefore, do not prune back to old wood when pruning these plants.

To thicken the new growth of pine or spruce, remove one-half the length of the candle (the new growth) in the spring when it is about 2 inches long. Do not use shears. Pinch out the tender candle with your fingers or sharp pruning shears. Shears damage needles surrounding the candle and the cut edges turn brown.

Shurp Pruning

Typical random- New spring growth on branched conifer. spruce branch.

Figure 9. Pruning conifers

Typical random- New spring growth on branched conifer. spruce branch.

Figure 9. Pruning conifers

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