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Lynn Barber, Hillsborough County Extension

Hurricanes have provided many of us with the ‘opportunity’ to prune our landscape plants; those not uprooted or destroyed. Under normal conditions, pruning does not have to involve a significant amount of our free time, but right now it seems to.

We should prune our landscape plants soon because of the damage incurred. Generally, we prune to train the plant to grow in a specific direction, stimulate flower or fruit production, promote more full growth, remove diseased or dead foliage and safety pruning, which is to prevent damage to people and property. Currently, we are pruning for some of those reasons and also to clean up shrubs that have been blown over, uprooted or damaged by falling trees and/or tree limbs. A few tips follow:
Pruners, not hedge shears, should be used to prune shrubs. Cutting back one-third of the plant will improve the aesthetics and health of the plant. However, you may need to prune more now depending on the amount of damage sustained.

Tree pruning may be necessary to improve the shape or form. For assistance in pruning trees, use an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist which you can find at: www.treesarecool.com. Click on the tab titled ‘Choose a Tree Care Professional’ to locate those in your area.

Hurricane pruning on Palms: is a practice that harms the palm and can cause more damage in strong winds. This type of pruning leaves only the fronds on the top of the palm. Please see the University of Florida publication, ‘Pruning Palms,’ by Timothy K. Broschat, at:
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep443. Not all palms or fronds require pruning. Dead palm fronds can be pruned; however, partially dead fronds (part green, yellow or brown) should not be pruned because they continue to supply potassium to the palm. Fronds should not be removed above the clock hand positions of nine and three.

As always, follow the landscape or architectural control procedures if you live in a deed restricted community. For assistance with horticultural questions, call us at 813-744-5519 or visit us at the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 CR 579 in Seffner. More gardening information is available at: http://hillsborough.ifas.ufl.edu and www.facebook.com/HCFFL/. Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle and repeat.