To prune or not to prune - in Florida, that is not even a question. Pruning can be done year round in our subtropical state. Even here plants may be less active in winter but pruning during dormancy is the most common practice. This results in a vigorous burst of new growth in the spring and should be used if that is the desired effect. As a rule it is usually best to wait until the coldest part of winter has passed.
With Spring comes an explosion of new growth. Spring pruning of a tree can enhance flowering if the tree is already in bloom. Pruning fruit-bearing trees during this time will also control where fruit develops. Long, thin branches may not be able to support the weight of fruit and so should be trimmed back.
In the heat of the summer things can slow down a bit. To direct the growth by slowing the branches you do not want; or to slow “dwarf” the development of a tree or branch, pruning should be done soon after seasonal growth is complete. The reason for the slowing effect is that you reduce the total leaf surface, thereby reducing the amount of food manufactured and sent to the roots.
Overcrowding is never good. If a plant becomes a tangle of overgrown branches it is more likely to succumb to pests and diseases, and will become less vigorous, resulting in a poor display of flowers. Cutting back regularly also helps to maintain an attractive shape and prevents plants from suffocating more compact neighbors, such as flowering perennials.
Leave the pruning of large trees to qualified tree care professionals who have the proper equipment. Consider the natural form of large trees whenever possible. Most hardwood trees have rounded crowns that lack a strong leader, and such trees may have many lateral branches.
South Florida growth knows no season! Pruning must take place several times a year. So, don't look at the calendar, look at your trees-then call Zimmerman! Ornamental trees need more meticulous pruning than normal shade trees. Don't take a chance with inexperienced people just because they have a chain saw.
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Note: ISA is the International Society of Consulting Arboriculture. ASCA is the American Society of Consulting Arborist.