This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
makes no sense. You cut off parts of a plant. Yet the plant is supposed to grow
back even better than before? This demands an answer.
The explanation begins with the apical bud. This bud is at the end of the actively growing tip of the plant.
buds produce a growth hormone called auxin. The buds release this hormone down the plant
stem. When the top of the main shoot is removed -- by pruning or breakage -- the
auxin is no long produced.
This causes buds to the side, called lateral buds, to wake
up and start growing. The result: better plant development.
can also remove unhealthy or unneeded parts of a plant, and increase the growth
of flowers and fruit.
the best time to prune is in late winter, before spring growth starts. But gardening
experts at the University of Florida extension point out some exceptions.
For example, spring-blooming plants like
spireas and azaleas should be pruned after they bloom. Then pinch the new
shoots between your thumb and forefinger. That will help them develop branches
that produce new blooms.
Plant expert Doug Welsh
says when you prune a rosebush, crape myrtle or shade tree, first remove dead,
broken or diseased parts. Cut at the place where the problem begins. "Deadhead,"
or take off, dead blooms.
any branches that touch another branch; leave the stronger one or the one that
is in a better position. Remove any branches growing in the same space as the
branches next to them. Also prune branches growing toward the ground, high
branches growing straight up and shoots growing from the base of the tree.
But Doug Welsh, a professor
at Texas A&M University, says not to go too far with pruning. He says a lot
of it can be avoided just by choosing the right plant for the right space. "People
can ruin what nature has created," he says.
a master gardener in Manatee County, Florida, says pruning wounds a plant. People
do not need to put anything on the wound, she says. But they do need to be
careful not to wound themselves with chainsaws or other pruning tools.
Also, tools can spread disease from one
plant to another. So be sure to disinfect tools with alcohol or bleach after
And that's the VOA Special
English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. Next week, learn about
new scientific understanding of how pruning works. And for more gardening
advice, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.