Fall Hours

9:00am-6:00pm Daily

5050 SE Stark • 503-231-5050

9000 SE Division • 503-788-9000

Retail only - no online sales

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Portland Nursery


Why prune? 5 good reasons

(Never prune without a good reason!)

  • Remove dead wood to support plant health
  • Create safe, structurally sound specimens
  • Enhance a plant’s ornamental qualities or train to pleasing shapes
  • Stimulate vigorous growth (hedges)
  • Enhance flowering and fruiting



Use the right tool for the job. Keep WD40 and a sharpener on hand. Keep tools clean, oiled and sharp.


Take a few important steps before heading out to prune. Observe the task and estimate the potential dangers.

  • Protect your eyes & ears. Close proximity to falling or poking branches can be dangerous. Be prepared.
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Use the right ladder for the job, make sure you have level footing and do not overreach.

When to prune?

  • Spring flowering trees & shrubs set flowers on last year’s growth. Prune right after flowers have finished bloom. Pruning in autumn will remove flower buds for the following spring.
  • Summer & fall flowering trees & shrubs set bloom in this year’s growth. Prune in early spring to encourage vigorous shoots and profuse flowering.

For more detailed pruning times:

How to Prune

  • Plan cuts carefully. Make a cut, step back & assess the next cut, repeat.
  • Prune no more than 1/3 of the plant at a time. Plants need to photosynthesize & will replace lost leaves rapidly by producing watersprouts or suckers. Exceptions are roses or shrubs that can be pruned low to the ground in spring (willows, red twig dogwoods).
  • No tree topping. Removing the head of a tree creates problems in the overall structure of the tree. Thinning the tree over time or removing the tree all-together are usually better options.


Small Branches

  • Good cuts are about ¼” above a growth-bud or branch & made at an angle facing away from the bud.
  • Cutting too close to a bud damages the bud; cutting too far away leaves a bit of stem to rot on the plant.


Large Branches



Large Branch Cutting



Five Types of Pruning Cuts

  • Thinning – remove branches back to a point of origin or junction with another branch. This lets you reduce the bulk of the plant & causes minimal regrowth.
  • Heading – remove just part of a stem or branch. This stimulates lateral growth just below the cut and causes new growth to be fuller. It can cause plants to be heavier at the tips.
  • Deadheading is removing spent flowers to encourage new flowers to form or to clean up the overall look of the plant.
  • Shearing – indiscriminate cuts for shape. Used commonly when pruning hedges.
  • Pinching – pinching off the terminal bud (bud at the tip of a stem) to create a fuller plant. Used mostly in annuals & perennials.