The ABCs of Pruning


IMG_0587A couple of weeks ago I told you about the, “A Planted Pallet” workshop I went to at Plantasia. That same morning I also went to one titled, “The ABCs of Pruning.” The main focus was on Azaleas, Boxwoods and Camellias – bushes you see a lot of here in the South. I have Azaleas and Camellias in my yard in Charleston and my house in Columbia has very large Boxwoods on either side of my porch.

While the focus was on those bushes, the information the guys from Schneider Tree Care gave out was also helpful for general pruning.



  • Bypass Shears – Apparently you are supposed to sanitize the blades with alcohol or  10 to 1 bleach solution between trimming different bushes. Think of it as hand sanitizer for plants. Considering I have washed my shears only a couple of times with water I guess am fortunate I have not passed on some sort of plant disease to every bush in my yard.
  • Handsaw – Mine looks like it came straight from 1955. On the upside I have a SawZaw I got at a yard sale for $5! Probably not want the Schneider Guys were talking about though.

Pruning Cuts

  • Unfortunately, you shouldn’t shear your bushes. This news was of great disappoint me as I love my electric plant shearing device that nice friends gave me when I first moved to South Carolina. Now, I am reduced to hand pruning to allow plants like the Boxwood to, and I quote the Schneider guy, “move freely in the wind.”
  • Instead you want to cut at the leaf/leaflets. What sold me on this idea was that when you shear, you get a bunch of leaves on the outside of your bush and this results in light starvation for the leaves in the center and then you get some poor plant that looks like grandma’s deflating, 1960s beehive with nothing in the center to support all that bouffant.

Time of Year


For the record, these are my neighbor’s Azaleas.

  • Azaleas – Prune after flowering. Pretty much any flowering plant can be pruned after it flowers.

My Boxwoods are not so civilized.

  • Boxwoods – Prune after flush, make pockets for light and air. Think grandma’s beehive. There has to be some support in there!

My Camellias so do not look like this.

  • Camellias – Prune after flowering and “hand” sanitize between plants so one Camellia does not pass on cooties to another Camellia.

Well, hope your Monday is going well and that this installment helps you with any yard plans you might have in the coming weeks of Summer. See y’all tomorrow!


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