Pruners are a gardener’s best friend. We use them so much for so many different tasks that it’s no wonder they often get a little beat up. It is easy to neglect caring for pruners, but with proper sharpening and regular cleaning, they will last longer and perform much better. Follow these simple steps to keep your pruners in tip-top shape, so you can use them to keep your plants in tip-top shape.
Don’t just buy the first pair of cheap pruners you see at the store—go for quality. Choose a brand you trust and make sure the pruners are an appropriate size and weight for you and fit comfortably in your hand. You will probably be using your pruners a lot (you may even want to make them their own holster to keep them at your fingertips), so it’s important to pick a pair that works well and is easy for you to use.
There is nothing more annoying than trying to prune with dull pruners—you end up struggling for a long time only to bend and rip branches, which leaves them ugly and susceptible to disease. It is definitely worth it to avoid all this frustration by investing in a good pair of pruners and taking the time to sharpen them properly. You and your plants will be much happier.
Begin sharpening with a coarse file. To do this, push the file along the beveled edge of the curved pruner blade, always in the same direction. As you sharpen the blade, it should turn a brighter color.
After sharpening with the file, rub a sharpening stone along the blade to smooth everything out.
Rub steel wool in a circular motion along the blade to remove any last bits of rust and roughness.
Finish by spraying pruners with a vegetable oil cooking spray. This will lubricate and protect the blades, keeping them sharper for longer.
Pruners cut through all kinds of stems and branches, which means they end up covered in all kinds of sap, pollen, and plant debris. This makes them into a grimy, sticky mess and it can be hard to even open and close the blades if there is too much gunk on there, plus infected bits of plant stuck on pruners can transfer disease to other plants. Keep your pruners clean the right way with both regular cleanings after each use and deep cleanings once per season.
Simple Daily Clean
After a day of using your pruners, wipe down the blades with a cotton face pad soaked in hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. Next, drip a little bit of vegetable oil onto some steel wool and buff the blades with it. This will lubricate the blades and prevent rust.
Seasonal Deep Clean
Each season, give your pruners a deep clean by unscrewing the nut that holds them together and taking all of the pieces apart. Use warm, soapy water to wash each part individually (use a toothbrush to scrub the tough stuff away) and then rub each part with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
Allow the parts to dry and then reassemble the pruners. If this step proves to be tricky, the manufacturer’s website should have detailed instructions to help you out.
Now that your pruners are sharp and clean, get out there and use them!
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