The pruning season officially starts at the New Year, so let’s begin 2014 with pruning shears in hand! Pruning is an important garden task, but because of its surgical aspect it can be daunting for many gardeners. This article features pruning basics to help those who might be afraid to take that initial snip. Your plants more than likely will grow out of any pruning mistakes inflicted upon them; so, prune away!
Wait to prune back spring blooming shrubs like forsythia, lilac, quince, azalea and rhododendron. Enjoy their spring bloom; then prune your spring bloomers just after the last flowers drop. Focus on cutting back fruit trees, perennial shrubs, and summer bloomers.
Most pruning books advise that 10% of a plant’s foliage mass can be cut back any time of the year. This means pruning a slight haircut for most hedges, or removing a major tree limb encroaching on a sidewalk. Major pruning is completed in mid winter, January through March. Up to 1/3 of the foliage mass of trees and shrubs can be trimmed back during this season. Any more than that invites disease, insects, and a stressful environment for plants.
This is the time to cut back all summer blooming perennial shrubs like butterfly bush, Russian sage, and rose of Sharon. All of them will enjoy a winter haircut. Roses are pruned back in the month of March. With these quick guidelines in mind, let’s go through my pruning guide.