February 1, 2012

What to Prune in Early Spring

One of the challenges all gardeners face who've inherited decorative shrubs when they moved or who have planted them and now run the risk of a garden takeover years later is when to prune.  So, here's my quick and dirty list of what to prune in late winter/early spring:

  • Plants that bloom in the summer
  • Hedges that need shaping
  • Evergreens that aren't pines

(A more detailed explanation/list is after the jump)

Plants that bloom in the summer--as a general rule, if it blooms in the summer, you can prune it like mad in the late winter/early spring.  This is because they're dormant or just about to start new growth at that time, and these plants flower from their new growth  so it's the perfect time to prune without risking fewer flowers.
Common examples of these plants include:

  • astilbe
  • bluebeard shrub
  • butterfly bush
  • carolina allspice
  • crape myrtle
  • holly
  • hydrangea
  • magnolias
  • oleander
  • potentilla
  • rock rose
  • rose of sharon
  • shrub rose
  • spirea
  • summersweet
  • vitex negundo

Hedges that require shaping--This is an ongoing project that you want to start in early spring.  Basically, you want to trim the new growth as it formst and makes sure that the top is a bit narrower than the bottom if there's a risk that it will shade it.

Evergreens--These include the wide leafed ones like holly and the needle ones, like spruce.  Don't cut the wood with no needles if you're trimming a needle evergreen or you won't get new growth.  Please note that pine trees are NOT part of this category!

Common examples of these plants include:

    • cypress
    • holly
    • juniper
    • spruce

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