Prune (cut back)

   When parts of a plant are cut off for the purpose of improving the plant, this process is called pruning. Pruning of the stem, branches, shoots, or roots benefits the plant by improving the shape or increasing the size of the flowers and fruits. Plants may be pruned by natural means, such as wind, ice, snow, shade, and overloads of fruit. The pruned plant is smaller after pruning, but because of the pruning it becomes stronger and larger. The branches should be cut close and clean, and large cuts should be covered with a protective paint or wax.
   Most deciduous trees require severe pruning for many years. If a tree has two main branches that form a sort of Y, there is a tendency for the tree to split when it gets older. The smaller branch should be removed, leaving only one main stem. Dead and diseased stems should always be removed. In spring-blooming shrubs and trees, the pruning should take place immediately after flowering. In late blooming shrubs and trees, pruning should be done only in the winter or very early spring. Hedges are pruned or sheared to keep them compact.
   Annuals and perennials are pruned by removing all but the strongest stems, or by pinching back the tops.