Gardentalk – Pruning blueberries, holly and junipers, and first aid for split tree branches

Raspberry and blueberry plants are just starting to bud in a North Douglas yard in this photo taken late April 2020. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Last week’s segment on pruning sparked a flood of additional questions from listeners.

So Master Gardener Ed Buyarski tried to answer as many as he could in this week’s question-and-answer lightning segment.

Buyarski’s answers are summarized below. Listen to the segment for more details.

Louise writes: “How and when to prune my blueberries?”

And Carolyn writes: “I have blueberry bushes. Do they need to be pruned? If so, how much?”

Buyarski said you don’t need to do a lot of pruning blueberries if production is good. Any pruning now will remove flower buds that are just emerging. But if the plants are too tall, then it might be worth it to selectively prune or trim the tops of plants. Just remember that it will stimulate more side growth in upcoming years.

Connie writes: “I recently bought a house with severely overgrown holly bushes. I need to trim the width back quite a bit. Not pruned in 15 years.”

As an evergreen, Buyarski said you can prune back holly almost anytime. He also suggests waiting until late fall or just before Christmas, so that you can use holly branches in holiday decorations or swap with a local florist.

Dominic writes: “When is the proper time to trim and shape my junipers and small pines?”

Buyarski said you could prune junipers anytime, except in the middle of winter. Small pines can be pruned over the next few weeks as new growth emerges. It may also stimulate more side growth later.

Lerenda writes: “Is it ok to use gardening tape on a tree that has a split branch? Or do you advise cutting it back? The branch has healthy growth.”

Buyarski said it depends on the split. If the branch is partially torn and peeled away, then the branch may be taped together with its weight supported by a strap or rope to the trunk. If it is a severe split, then future health of the branch would be affected.

“She may want to cut the branch back so it isn’t trying to keep as much of it alive,” he said.

There are many more questions recently submitted by listeners. Buyarski will answer them in upcoming segment.


Do you have a garden question for Ed? Fill out the form below, and he’ll answer your question in an upcoming segment.

Listen to past episodes and subscribe to the podcast on the “Gardentalk” page, so you’ll never have to worry about missing Thursday’s live radio broadcasts.

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