Web Extra: Pruning to make great evergreens October 31, 2013 • Leave a CommentTo read the full article by Janet Macunovich on pruning evergreens, pick up a copy of the Nov/Dec, 2013 issue of Michigan Gardener in stores or find it in our digital edition. Captions by Janet Macunovich / Photos by Steven Nikkila Even a tiny branch (circled) has great potential. Once clipping changes its position from shaded interior to sunny outer edge, this wimpy twig can become a husky, densely feathered leader. Evergreen pruning can be done at any time. I can even thin at one time, and cut back overall at a different time. I take advantage of that in winter when we need long branches for decorations. Look at all the great cuttings I’ve gathered just from thinning this boxwood (left) and these hollies (right). Work with the natural shape of the plant and you can do all the cutting at once, using pruners. Most stems are clipped by one year’s growth. The thickest are cut by two years’. These shrubs were a matched set five minutes ago. They will be again in five more minutes once I’ve clipped the one on the left. If a shrub has become too big (photo 1), I wait until early spring to cut and thin. For instance, I cut and thinned these boxwoods shortly after budbreak (photo 2). At other times all this previously sheltered wood and foliage would have been suddenly exposed to summer heat or wintry cold. Such quick changes can kill leaves and make wood die back even further than it was cut. Recovery was well underway in August of that same year (photo 3).