Why, how you need to prune that plant

Wednesday March 24 2021

Secateurs are good for pruning plants. PHOTO/skh.com

By Joan Salmon

Pruning is trimming a tree, plant, shrub, or bush by cutting away overgrown, dead stems or branches.

While trimming foliage may at times be difficult, more so the beautiful one, it is important as it helps the plant become healthy and allows for new growth. Ivan Nkata, a landscaper, adds that pests hide in that thick foliage. “Therefore pruning will keep pests and ultimately diseases at bay,” he says.

If the plants are indoor, Stanslaus Hakiza, an interior designer, says pruning will help to trim them down to a size and shape suitable for the indoors. It also helps to get rid of dead or yellowing sections of the plant thus giving your plants a better look.”


Pruning can be done by the homeowner and the tools are not complicated either. A clean pair of plant secateurs, plant pruners, pruning saw, loopers or gardening shears are good enough for you to prune your plants and trees.

Hakiza says you will also need protective clothing such as gloves, gumboots and an overall as some plants are thorny. That said, some knowledge on how pruning is done is essential and we will share that in this article.


Pruning basics

When done well, plants and trees will benefit from the activity. However, some plants need extra care when pruning. “For example, most ferns are delicate in that while you can get rid of dead leaves, because they never form branches, the top growth areas must never be cut lest they die,” Nkata shares.

Removing or trimming brown or yellow leaves not only rids you of pests that are attracted by the decay. “It also helps revive a struggling plant, as it is such that have dying leaves. However, when the leaves are yellowing, allow them to fully turn yellow so that they are plucked without resistance and harm to the plant is avoided. Leaves that have turned brown should also be removed. However, if you must remove yellowing leaves, cut them off from the leaf stalk,” Henry Lubulwa, a gardener shares.

Hakiza adds that it is also good to trim browning edges off leaves as it will not harm the plant but help it make look better. “To help your work look professional, while cutting off the brown edge, try to mimic the leaf’s original shape,” he advises.

Pruning times

Pruning is best done when the plants are getting subtle amounts of sunshine, not too much or too little.  “It is thus advisable that you do not do large amounts of pruning in the dry weather as growth has slowed down,” Nkata says.

He adds that it is not right to prune after a downpour because the leaves are still wet and you will not get the original shape. “More to that trimming after a rainy day may cost you the branch because after trimming, the cut area loses water and must dry to heal, which is impossible after a rainy day. In that case, you will instead lose the whole branch to rot,” he notes.

However, with the current weather changes, Nkata says knowing the right time to prune might be tricky though usually, nothing fatal, save fewer fruits or flowers will result from a mistake. “That said, pruning late in the rainy season should be avoided as new growths will die off in the scorching sun.”

In regards to fruit trees, Lubulwa says pruning is best done when they are dormant; right  after harvesting. “Otherwise, the plant will gradually decline as they would have sent out suckers that drain energy from fruiting branches,” he says.

Nonetheless, tasks such as removing yellow or brown leaves can be during any time of the year. “You could also trim vines and stems to keep the plant looking healthy,” he adds.

Pruning different plants


Just like indoors plants, outdoor plants and trees need pruning for their growth could become too much for your space. “Pruning or trimming will help thin them out which is visually attractive, keeps them in shape and allows for wind to go though the branches thus healthier trees. It is also advisable to remove whole limbs in order to get rid of suckers, diseased or dead limbs,” Nkata explains.

Even for those plants that grow vertically such as the Taminelia, he says trimming the topmost point of growth will allow for branching because usually, when a branch is pruned, two or more will sprout under the area where the pruning was done. “Ultimately, this helps one control how and where the plant grows thus tailoring it to your space,”  he says.


Berry bushes will also benefit from pruning when weak or broken stems are removed as that allows for sunlight to reach the whole plant.

“However, because they have thorns, wearing protective clothing such as gloves is important,” Lubulwa says.

Apart from removing unwanted stems, he says trimming the height of the bush is important as that also contributes to increasing the plant’s productivity.


While trees will get lots of branches, vines get leggy thus the need for pruning. For example, pathos, fambaccia, and alamanda will benefit from pruning to allow for a healthier look.

If you wish to propagate, you can use these cut vines.

“However, it calls for cutting directly below a node. Then the cutting will be put into soil or water for roots to grow,” Nkata says.


These include pines, and firs and most homeowners leave them as is, never pruning them. because most have a shape that they maintain even without trimming and rarely have ingrowth. “Pruning them actually stresses some of them. In case you have limited space, getting dwarf evergreen such as dwarf/miniature conifers will work better,” Lubulwa says

Nonetheless, when using them as a hedge, they need trimming to allow for fuller growth but one ought to do it during the rainy season but not on a rainy day.