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Proper Pruning in Late Winter

Proper pruning in late winter leads to strong, lush trees and shrubs in the springtime

Pruning cuts are made slightly beyond the branch collar.

Pruning cuts are made slightly beyond the branch collar. COURTESY OF JOHNSON COUNTY K-STATE RESEARCH & EXTENSION

BY DENNIS PATTON for Kansas City Star (MO), FEBRUARY 12, 2020 03:42 PM

Does pruning strike more fear in your heart than a trip to the doctor? Pruning sounds complicated, but once you understand the basic guidelines, the rest falls into place.

PROPER PRUNING IN LATE WINTER – KNOW WHERE TO MAKE THE CUT

Most people hesitate knowing where to make the cut. Discerning “where” does not mean which specific limb needs to be removed. It means where precisely on the branch the cut is to be made.

Every pruning cut should be made at the point where there is another branch, fork, crotch angle or new bud forming. Making the cut at a growth point reduces the chance of decay and uncontrolled growth. Directing new growth is the goal of pruning, not merely pruning to remove growth.

Pruning to this juncture removes tall overgrown limbs, reduces plant height and thins out the plant. When extreme weather impacts our neighborhoods, pruning will reduce the weight of snow, ice and wind, which can lead to branch failure.

The energy that once supported the removed limb is now channeled into the growth of the remaining limbs. It is important to understand the concept of directional pruning.

The direction of the remaining limb or bud will point to where the growth will head. Attempting to control height? Prune to a side-pointing limb. Need to reduce spread? Prune to an upward pointing limb. Tired of the low-hanging limb hitting you in the face? Find a branch growing upward. See how this works?

Removing a limb back to another branch thins out a tree or shrub for better light penetration and less wind resistance. Not only does this apply to shade trees, but flowering and fruit trees as well. More sunlight penetrating the plant will lead to more flowering and fruit development.

HOW TO MAKE THE CUT

Now that you are confident in knowing where to make the cut, the next step is to do it properly. Pruning is an injury to the plant or tree, wounding the wood. The goal is to quickly heal the wound with a correctly made cut.

Pruning cuts are made slightly beyond the branch collar, where a layer of cambium growth has the ability of rapidly sealing off the cut. The branch collar is the raised, rough growth of bark tissue at the crotch angle. Remember, the cut is always made back to a branch angle.

Try to avoid cutting to the outside of the branch collar as it will leave a slight bump. We want to steer clear of creating a stub, a longer piece of wood sticking out. Stubs do not heal and lead to decay or uncontrolled growth. Cutting too close results in a flush cut, which removes the bark collar, leaving a bigger wound. A larger wound is slower to seal and increases the chance of decay.

Tree pruning is done in late winter before new growth. The lack of foliage reveals problem areas, making it easier to know which limbs to remove. Spring is a time of rapid growth for quick recovery. Now go forth and prune. I have confidence in your abilities.

Dennis Patton is a horticulture agent with Kansas State University Research and Extension. Got a question for him or other university extension experts? Email them to [email protected].

https://www.kansascity.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/kc-gardens/article240239351.html


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Anatomy of a Tree

Leaves

Leaves carry out photosynthesis, making food for the tree and releasing oxygen into the air. And this tells us much about their shapes. For example, the narrow needles of a Douglas fir can expose as much as three acres of chlorophyll surface to the sun.

The lobes, leaflets, and jagged edges of many broad leaves have their uses, too. They help evaporate the water used in food-building, reduce wind resistance and even provide “drip tips” to shed rain that, left standing, could decay the leaf.

Branches and Twigs

Branches and twigs grow out of the tree trunk and serve as support structures for leaves, flowers, and fruit. Branches are the main “limbs” of the tree, whereas the twigs are smaller and come off of the branches. They also transport materials between the trunk and the leaves.

Trunk

The trunk of a tree is made up of five different layers.

Anatomy of a Tree
  1. The outer bark is the tree’s protection from the outside world. Continually renewed from within, it helps keep out moisture in the rain and prevents the tree from losing moisture when the air is dry. It insulates against cold and heat and wards off insect enemies.
  2. The inner bark, or “phloem,” is the pipeline through which food is passed to the rest of the tree. It lives for only a short time then dies and turns to cork to become part of the protective outer bark.
  3. The cambium cell layer is the growing part of the trunk. It annually produces new bark and new wood in response to hormones that pass down through the phloem with food from the leaves. These hormones, called “auxins,” stimulate growth in cells. Auxins are produced by leaf buds at the ends of branches as soon as they start growing in the spring.
  4. Sapwood is the tree’s pipeline for water moving up to the leaves. Sapwood is new wood. As newer rings of sapwood are laid down, inner cells lose their vitality and turn to heartwood.
  5. Heartwood is the central, supporting pillar of the tree. Although dead, it will not decay or lose strength while the outer layers are intact. A composite of hollow, needlelike cellulose fibers bound together by a chemical glue called lignin, it is in many ways as strong as steel. Set vertically, a 1″ x 2″ cross-section that is 12″ long can support twenty tons!

Roots

roots

Contrary to popular belief, tree roots are typically found in the top three feet of the soil. As well, they expand well beyond the dripline, often occupying an area two to four times the size of the tree crown.

A tree’s root system works to absorb water and minerals from the soil, anchor the tree to the ground, and store food reserves for the winter. It is made up of two kinds of roots: large perennial roots and smaller, short-lived feeder roots.

Want to read more of our articles? Click here to read about the benefits of trees!


“Anatomy of a Tree.” Advanced Search-The Tree Guide at Arborday.org, The Arbor Day Foundation, www.arborday.org/trees/TreeGuide/anatomy.cfm.


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Deer Damage

Deer Damage to Trees and Landscape

One of the most frustrating things to deal with this time of year is having a deer snack on your beloved plants! Even if you are the type of person to tolerate deer damage because you love them, beware!  Deer are creatures of habit.  Once they feel safe and find a tasty snack, they will visit regularly.

An increase in deer populations and a decrease in their natural habitat have set up a situation in which your favorite landscapes become alternative food sources for deer.  As winter approaches and food sources become scarce, feeding on leaves, stems, and buds of plants becomes more apparent.  Male deer also cause damage by rubbing their antlers along the trunks of trees, stripping off the bark. Deer should be discouraged immediately.  Trees and shrubs can suffer permanent damage.  Deer damage is usually identified by the torn or jagged appearance of branches

deer damage to tree

There are four ways to discourage deer: Fencing, repellents, predators, and deer-resistant plants. 

Fencing requires you to enclose your entire yard with a fence at least six feet tall. This is not necessarily an aesthetically pleasing option and also not cost effective. In some cases, you can put barrier fencing around these individual plants. While it is still unsightly, protecting a tree while it is young is important. 

Homemade and commercial repellents are common control methods to discourage deer, but their effectiveness varies. Snow and rainfall wash them away, so frequent applications are needed. Also, if food sources are scarce, deer may simply ignore the repellents, despite the taste or odor.

As far as predators go, a  noisy dog is a good deer deterrent.  If you don’t have a dog, you can hang shiny tape from branches, or place inflated balls, and other moving objects in the yard to startle deer with sudden movement.  You’ll have to rotate these frequently, however, or deer will soon realize that they are not in danger from these objects.

 If they are hungry enough and food is scarce enough, deer will eat almost anything.  However, there are a number of plants that deer don’t find particularly palatable.  Using these plants in your landscape is often the most cost-effective, least time-consuming, and most aesthetically pleasing solution.

Below is a list of trees and shrubs not favored by deer.  However, the resistance of any plant species may change due to environmental factors.

Always check to make sure that the plant is not invasive before you plant it! 

TREES

Common Name                                                      Scientific Name

American chestnut                                             Castanea dentata

Bald-cypress                                                     Taxodium distichum

Beech                                                                Fagus spp.

Birch                                                                  Betula spp.

Catalpa                                                              Catalpa spp.

Dawn redwood                                                  Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Giant arborvitae                                               Thuja plicata

Ginkgo                                                              Ginkgo biloba

Ironwood                                                           Ostrya virginiana

Japanese tree lilac                                            Syringa reticulata

Larch                                                                 Larix spp.

Honey-locust                                                    Gleditsia triacanthos

Redbud                                                             Cercis canadensis

Sassafras                                                          Sassafras albidum

Smoketree                                                         Cotinus spp.

Sourwood                                                          Oxydendrum arboreum

Sweetgum                                                         Liquidambar styraciflua

Spruce                                                              Picea spp.

Sycamore                                                         Platanus occidentalis

Tulip tree                                                          Liriodendron tulipifera

 

Shrubs

Common Name                                                       Scientific Name

Boxwood                                                              Buxus spp.

Leatherwood                                                       Dirca palustris

Coralberry/Snowberry                                         Symphoricarpos spp.

       * Poisonous, do not eat!

Forsythia                                                             Forsythia spp.

Japanese kerria                                                  Kerria japonica

Common lilac                                                     Syringa vulgaris

Oregon grape-holly                                            Mahonia aquifolium

Smokebush                                                       Cotinus spp

Spicebush                                                         Lindera benzoin                     

Spirea                                                               Spiraea spp.

Carolina allspice                                              Calycanthus floridus

Witch hazel                                                      Hamamelis spp.

 

Ground Covers

Common Name                                                      Scientific Name

Barren strawberry                                              Waldsteinia fragarioides

Bergenia                                                            Bergenia cordifolia

Bugleweed                                                         Ajuga reptans

Bunchberry                                                       Cornus canadensis

Catmint                                                              Nepeta x faassenii

Epimedium                                                        Epimedium spp.

Ferns                                                                 Numerous species

Hens and chicks                                               Sempervivum spp.

Juniper                                                               Juniperus spp.

Lady’s mantle                                                    Alchemilla mollis

Lamium                                                              Lamium spp.

Lily turf                                                              Liriope spicata

Lungwort                                                           Pulmonaria spp.

Mosses                                                              ————–

Pachysandra                                                      Pachysandra spp.

Potentilla                                                            Potentilla spp

Sedum                                                                Sedum spp.

Snow-in-summer                                                Cerastium tomentosum

Sweet woodruff                                                   Galium odoratum

Vinca                                                                   Vinca minor

Violet                                                                    Viola spp.

Wild ginger                                                           Asarum canadense

Wild strawberry                                                    Fragaria spp

 

Perennial Vines

Common Name                                                      Scientific Name

Akebia                                                                Akebia quinata

Bittersweet                                                         Celastrus scandens

Clematis                                                             Clematis spp.                          

Crimson glory vine                                              Vitis coignetiae

Silver lace vine                                                  Polygonum aubertii

Trumpet creeper                                               Campsis radicans

Virginia creeper                                                Parthenocissus quinquefolia

 

Hardy Bulbs

Common Name                                                      Scientific Name

Autumn crocus                                                  Colchicum autumnalis

Crown imperial                                                  Fritillaria imperialis

Daffodil                                                               Narcissus spp.

Grape hyacinth                                                  Muscari spp.

Glory-of-the-snow                                             Chionodoxa luciliae

Ornamental onion                                              Allium spp.

Siberian scilla                                                   Scilla sibirica

Snowdrops                                                       Galanthus nivalis

Winter aconite                                                  Eranthis hyemalis

 

Annuals and Biennials

Common Name                                                      Scientific Name

Ageratum                                                           Ageratum houstonianum

Alyssum                                                             Lobularia maritima

Candytuft                                                          Iberis sempervirens

Forget-me-not                                                   Myosotis spp.

Four o’clock                                                       Mirabilis jalapa

Foxglove                                                           Digitalis purpurea

Heliotrope                                                         Heliotropium arborescens

Larkspur                                                            Delphinium spp.

Lobelia                                                               Lobelia spp.

Marigold                                                            Tagetes spp.

Mexican sunflower                                          Tithonia rotundifolia

Mimulus                                                             Mimulus spp.

Nasturtium                                                        Tropaeolum majus

Petunia                                                              Petunia spp.

Poppy                                                                Papaver spp.

Salvia                                                                Salvia spp.

Snapdragon                                                      Antirrhinum majus

Stocks                                                               Matthiola spp.

Sunflower                                                         Helianthus annuus

Sweet William                                                  Dianthus spp.

 

Hardy Perennials

Common Name                                                    Scientific Name

Monkshood                                                       Aconitum spp.

Anemone                                                           Anemone spp.

Artemisia                                                           Artemisia spp.

Astilbe                                                                Astilbe spp.

Bee Balm                                                           Monarda spp.

Bergenia                                                             Bergenia cordifolia

Black-eyed Susan                                              Rudbeckia hirta

Butterfly weed                                                   Asclepias tuberosa

Columbine                                                         Aquilegia spp.

Coreopsis                                                          Coreopsis spp.

Cranesbill                                                          Geranium spp.

Fleabane daisy                                                  Erigeron x hybridus

Foam flower                                                      Tiarella cordifolia

Gentian                                                             Gentiana spp.

Geum                                                                Geum spp.

Goldenrod                                                         Solidago spp.

Hellebore                                                           Helleborus nigra

Hens & chicks                                                   Sempervivum spp.

Hibiscus                                                             Hibiscus spp.

Iris                                                                      Iris spp.

Jacob’s ladder                                                   Polemonium caeruleum

Rose campion                                                   Lychnis coronaria

Marsh marigold                                                Caltha palustris

Meadow rue                                                     Thalictrum spp.

Meadowsweet                                                  Filipendula spp.

Peony                                                                Paeonia spp.

Phlox                                                                 Phlox divaricata

Pinks                                                                 Dianthus spp.

Purple coneflower                                             Echinacea purpurea

Rockcress                                                         Arabis caucasica

Russian sage                                                   Perovskia atriplicifolia

Salvia                                                               Salvia spp.

Sedum                                                              Sedum spp.

Shasta daisy                                                     Chrysanthemum

Snakeroot                                                         Eupatorium rugosum

Sneezeweed                                                    Helenium autumnale

Snow-in-summer                                             Cerastium tomentosum

Speedwell                                                        Veronica spp.

Toadflax                                                            Linaria spp.

Valerian                                                            Valeriana officinalis

Violet                                                                 Viola spp.

Yarrow                                                               Achillea spp.

 

 

Herbs

Common Name                                                       Scientific Name

Angelica                                                             Angelica archangelica

Artemisia                                                           Artemisia vulargis

Basil                                                                   Ocimum basilicum

Borage                                                               Borago officinalis

Catmint                                                              Nepeta x faassenii

Chamomile                                                        Matricaria spp.

Chives                                                               Allium schoenoprasum

Comfrey                                                            Symphytum x rubrum

Dill                                                                      Anethum graveolens

Fennel                                                               Foeniculum vulgare

Feverfew                                                           Tanacetum parthenium

Germander                                                      Teucrium chamaedrys

Hyssop                                                              Hyssopus officinalis

Lamb’s ears                                                      Stachys byzantina

Lavender                                                          Lavandula angustifolia

Lemon balm                                                    Melissa officinalis

Mint                                                                  Mentha spp.                                       

Mullein                                                             Verbascum spp.

Oregano                                                           Origanum vulgare

Parsley                                                             Petroselinum spp.

Rosemary                                                        Rosmarinus officinalis

Rue                                                                   Ruta graveolens

Sage                                                                 Salvia officinalis

Savory                                                              Satureja montana

Tansy                                                                Tanacetum coccineum

Thyme                                                              Thymus spp.


Works Cited: 
Plants not favored by deer. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2019, from https://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/horticulture-care/plants-not-favored-deer.

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