You’ve heard this before… depends.

Here are some things we need to keep in mind when we’re trying to keep the shrubs that provide color or privacy in our landscapes blooming well and not “overgrown”. One of the first things we need to know is when the flower buds are formed so we don’t remove them by pruning at the wrong time. In order to keep it simple (KISS) it is normally safe to prune shrubs just as soon as they are finished flowering. Forsythia, Weigelia, Spirea, Lilac and most Hydrangeas should be pruned right after they bloom. These varieties form their flowers the summer before the spring they bloom. If you happened to prune these varieties, and others like them, after mid-July you will be removing the flower buds for the coming spring’s show. A severe winter, like long periods of very cold temperatures can also kill flower buds of some plants.

Older plants, need to be “rejuvenated” because older canes should be removed. We can do this by removing 1/3 of the oldest(largest) canes or stems all the way back to the ground every year or so. When this is done the plant responds by sending up new canes so in effect we have a “new” shrub every few years. This takes care of the major portion of pruning but it does not address keeping the over-all size of the shrub from getting too large for the space we have for this plant. After we remove these older canes we can determine if it is necessary to reduce the size of the plant. Most of the time it is better to keep the natural form of the plant but there are situations in some gardens where a more formal shape is desirable. Random removal of a portion of the longer canes will keep the “natural” look of the plant while reducing the height and width. More symmetrical shapes, like ovals or straight lines for an appearance of a manicured hedge can be achieved by trimming with hedge shears. Whichever way the pruning is accomplished, be sure to use sharp shears so the branches are cut clean and there are no ragged ends left on the plant. Prune close to the remaining stem on the plant so there are no stubs where decay can begin.

Flowering Shrubs that bloom on current seasons growth like Butterfly Bush and hardy Hibiscus can be pruned now. Evergreens like junipers and yews that do not flower can be pruned in the winter but March seems to be one of the better times, after the ravages of winter weather are over.

Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your questions or bring in a sample of your shrub if you need help identifying what you have in your landscape.

34 years of growing

Meadow View Growers

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