Pruning important after sever weather

Spring is never dull in Oklahoma as weather always seems to find a way to become the center of discussion. East Norman, Choctaw, Harrah and much of the eastern side of the city recently experienced tornados and high wind damage. Piedmont, Quail Creek, Nichols Hills, The Village and a large area of north Oklahoma City was then hammered with significant hail this last week.

We should be focused on planting more flowers, vegetables and trees and enjoying what we have already planted and yet many gardeners find themselves cleaning up, pruning and deciding whether to replant damaged plants.

If you got wind or hail damage that broke or severely injured branches it is best to prune out the dead or injured limbs or shoots as soon as possible leaving a clean even cut. Your plants have a strong will to live and this pruning will act like a pinch and the plant will usually try to send out new shoots or growth from the internodes just below the cut.

Pruning instructions go way back in history with many pruning instructions and parables even in the Bible. This is not the time of year we would normally prune many plants but when you have storm damage it is best to go ahead and prune out the damage right away so the plants can spend their energy to produce strong new growth rather than growing on damaged wood.

If a tree  or shrub lost bark, lots of branches or is stripped of foliage it can be weakened for several years and will be more vulnerable to insects, diseases, drought or winter ice and hard freezes so pay particular attention to watering and feeding the next few seasons until they are fully recovered.

Many vegetable and flower gardeners in these affected areas now have a better understanding of the challenges that face commercial farmers. The wheat crop or the tomato crop can be looking great and the farmer can be hopeful of making his loan payments and saving a little that season and then one untimely hail storm can wipe it all out, adding to the bank note for future years.

With the damage happening this early in the season many gardeners face the choice of whether their tomatoes, peppers and eggplant will just be delayed and send out new shoots or whether to scrap the crop and replant. The safest answer, if you are left with bare stems or just a few leaves on a cut back plant, is to plant new plants in between your existing plants, then see what survives and thrives. You can grow out all the plants or select the strongest in a few weeks and thin out the weakest.

Hopefully we won’t get any more weather damage and you can concentrate on adding new trees to your yard, adding additional ground beds or raised vegetable gardens. Don’t forget to pot up the rest of those great containers for your patio or porch.

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