Passionflower Chapter

Florida Native Plant Society

Past Activity News

Pruning Class at LLSP

Jimmy Rogers - Passionflower member, Sustainability Coordinator at Cherrylake Tree Farm, and Certified Arborist - gave a hands-on pruning class at the Lake Louisa State Park Ranger Station Garden on January 26, 2023.  Using a Chickasaw Plum, Jimmy demonstrated pruning techniques and answered questions.

Jimmy’s advice - GO SLOW and make deliberate cuts.  Ideally, you want the tree/shrub to keep its natural shape and only remove what’s necessary:

  • Don’t remove more than 13-15% of the tree growth.Pruning a mature tree can be a milt-year process.
  • Remove branches that are protruding where people will walk, mow, sit, and weed.
  • Look for the 4 Ds – Dead, Dying, Diseased, Decayed limbs.
  • Guide future growth with directional pruning – cut ¼” from node so it will heal and hide the cut.
  • Remove crossing branches – if branches are touching, especially if you can see where there has been rubbing.
  • Don’t remove any limbs larger than 1/3rd the size of the trunk.
  • Don’t “clean out” the center of the tree – called “lion tail pruning” this puts all the weight at the end of the branches and eliminates wind buffer - leave some denser growth for nesting birds

Other topics covered -

  • Safety – do not prune from a ladder, wear eye protection and gloves - if using a pole saw make sure it is long enough that you can stand far enough away that the branch will not fall on you
  • Tools – prefers hand tools as they encourage going slow (compared to chain saws) and making deliberate cuts - sharp tools make a clean cut (best for the tree/shrub) and save your energy – when pruning a diseased tree, clean your tools before cutting a different tree - Jimmy’s favorites are Silky tree saws and Felco #2 pruners.
  • Painting cuts – not recommended as it traps moisture.
  • Removing large limbs - make 3 cuts - remove the weight of the limb and avoid tearing the bark, with 2 cuts at least 1’ from the trunk, first on the lower side of the branch and then from the top a few inches outside the first cut - then make the final cut.
  • The right final cut location – cut at the boundary between the trunk tissue and branch tissue - do not flush cut at the trunk as cutting the branch collar will damage the tree.See reference below for diagrams.
  • When to prune – fall and winter are best as the tree is not growing/dormant - do not prune when the tree/shrub is flushing (foliage is light green) - pruning in winter is also easier as you can see the branches and know what you’re cutting.
  • Palms – best to wait until fronds are dead to remove - don’t “hurricane cut” – palm branches should go from 3:00 to 9:00.
  • Suckers – don’t chop with a shovel – cut flush with ground.
  • Use an extension saw on palmettos to avoid getting cut and watch for wasp nests.
  • If you’ve pruned a lot, give the tree some extra water.
  • There is no research showing that ball moss or Spanish moss harms trees.

The hour-long class went by quickly.  Jimmy recommended the UF/IFAS Pruning Trees and Shrubs paper for anyone who wants a refresher on the topics he covered and learn more.

If you’re not pruning yourself, find a certified arborist (ISA) International Society of Arboriculture (

You can also watch a pruning video at

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