What is Pruning in plants? Why is it needed? – An essential gardening practice.

What is Pruning:

Pruning is the trimming of a plant/shrub/bush/tree by cutting the overgrown/superfluous/unwanted/dead branches or stems to ensure the proper growth of the plant.

Though many hobby growers do not get involved in regular pruning, it is as basic a need as watering and de-weeding in a garden.

Why is it needed?

Not all plant varieties need pruning. Those that do, may need it for different purposes. a few examples:-

  • There are some exceptional temperate fruit crops which will never produce flowers and fruits unless pruned. Ex. Apple, peaches
  • Pruning is an essential and important horticultural practice to follow to get maximum yield from some crops by ensuring that more of the nutrients are used in improving yield, than growing foliage.
  • Apart from the core purpose of making a tree/plant more productive and bear quality fruits, pruning is also done in order to increase the longevity and keep the plants/tree in manageable shape.
  • In ornamental plants, pruning gives a more aesthetic look to plants.

Is pruning a necessary operation?? Ideally – Yes… it is!!


  • It keeps the plant healthy
  • Allows maximum sunlight and air movement for the plant
  • Helps in getting the larger sized fruit.

Types of Pruning:

There are two different ways of carrying out pruning, both serving different objectives.

  1. Heading back: In this type of Pruning a terminal part of the shoot is removed to a certain level. This helps in the development of secondary branches
  2. Thinning out: Here the entire branch is cut right from its base.

Pruning techniques vary with the type of plant, weather and the agronomic practices adopted by the gardener to grow them.

Pruning requires a lot of personal experience on the part of the pruner. The type and severity of the pruning to be performed in commercial orchards can only be judged by skilled labor as severe or wrong pruning of branches leads to less yield and dwarfness of the plant.

The minimum common practice for pruning irrespective of various person and condition is the removal of dead, diseased and dried branches

Pruning tools:

Many fancy tools are available in the market for pruning. The essential ones are knives, shears, and saws. The most commonly used tool is the hand shear known as ‘Secateur.’

It is vital that we should use sterilized pruning tools to avoid the spread of insect from one plant to another or from one orchard to another.

Points to remember while practicing pruning:

  1. Do not go for excessive pruning as it can lead to delayed fruiting and dwarfism in plants.
  2. In pruning, the part which is not essential is the one that needs to be removed.
  3. Pruning of young plants should be done with care as severe pruning leads to delayed fruiting.
  4. One must exercise great caution as pruning in a more yielding area of the plant may result in the elimination of a larger yield area.

Hope this article was useful and helped you learn about Pruning. In the follow-up article next week, we will cover how one should go about pruning in Tomato plants.

Happy Gardening!!

Sushma completed her B. Sc. from College of Horticulture, Hiriyur and M. Sc. from College of Horticulture, Bengaluru. She is an avid gardener with expertise across soil based and soilless gardening techniques using substrates.

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