It’s pruning time, yaall! At least for roses and shrubs that bloom mid-summer or later. And pruning is the most significant gardening task that most people never do. Or if they certainly prune, it is done by them the old-fashioned way – by shearing plants into perfect styles. But nowadays shearing is discouraged in favor of a more naturalistic style that’s better for plant health insurance and requires less frequent pruning by the gardener.
And to my eyes, plants permitted to look natural are just prettier. Butterfly bush and Caryopteris should be pruned now. Butterfly bush and beautyberry should be chopped to within 3 or so inches from the ground. Nandina needs its tallest, leggiest stems cut to nearby the ground back. For cherry laurels, euonymus, privet, photinia, and summer-blooming spireas, remove one-third of the stems to the ground, choosing for removal of the tallest and oldest and the ones that are crowding the interior.
That’s in addition to removing any dead, diseased, or damaged stems or branches. Roses need yearly pruning and almost all of them require it in March but how and when depends on the sort, as explained here by Homestead’s guru Gene Sumi. Shrubs in hedges might need to be sheared to become kept narrow enough because of their site, but they still reap the benefits of having up to third with their oldest stems removed.
Then if the exterior edge is dense and blocks light from the interior, use hands pruner to punch slots in it. That will encourage growth on the inside while improving the air circulation that helps prevent disease. There’s another band of shrubs that needs to be pruned now, but only when they actually need it, which they might not.
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Two that tend to be pruned – late-blooming hydrangea (like Annabelles and H. maniculatus like ‘Limelight’ and ‘Tardiva) and crape Myrtle – don’t need regular pruning in any respect, unless they’re too big for where they’re planted. Winter is the optimum time to prune most trees and many shrubs because it’s when they’re dormant.
And for the leaf-dropping types, it’s when you’re able to better see what you’re doing. Just don’t prune spring-bloomers if you’d like to enjoy those blooms this season now; wait until the blooms have faded. Prune forsythia after they bloom. So in overdue spring, give these spring-blooming shrubs this seemingly severe treatment and they’ll thrive – I promise.
Yes, you’ll be taking away huge amounts of plant materials, but be fearless! Forsythia should be chopped down to the ground or near it. For azaleas, weigelas, viburnums, and spireas, remove one-third of the stems to the bottom. Rhododendrons don’t suffer from overcrowding like the others in this person but may still benefit from renewal pruning if they’ve become top-heavy or otherwise misshapen.
Before you get hold of your tools, one more word of advice about pruning just. Make the cuts just above a node or branch, about 1/4 to 1/2 inches away. That way, unsightly, unproductive stumps aren’t kept hanging, and reductions are created where they can make the newest advancement – at those nodes where in fact the high is. The various tools you’ll use are: hand pruners, loppers, and folding pruning saws. To learn more, Google “prune X” just, X being the true name of the shrub, and go through the links that end in “gov” or “edu”.
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