On Pruning

Pruning increases plant vigor because the water supply, minerals and any manufactured food go to a more select number of growing points.

Camellia japonicas may need some pruning to produce well-shaped plants. This is accomplished before they begin blooming. Camellia sasanqua is in the same family as C. japonica, but produces blooms more in clusters than single blooms. It's advisable to prune back quite a bit after it has finished flowering. They usually set flower buds in June, so one pruning of sasanquas is enough. Pruning later in the summer has the risk of cutting off flower buds. This plant makes a showy hedge; but keep in mind that late pruning will reduce the flower crop.

Azaleas require very little pruning; but light pruning gives a better shaped plant and more attractive blooms. This is particularly true of dwarf azaleas. Tall-growing types such as Formosa may require more pruning to keep them in bounds. Right after blooms have started turning brown is the best time to prune. Be sure to remove dead or injured branches when shaping or heading back plants.

JapaneseYew (Podocarpus) is among the few evergreens that attain such a delicate form. It has a tendency to send out long upright branches that need heading back to keep the plant full. Side branches also can be pruned to encourage column-type growth.

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