Gardening column: Pruning shrubs | Columnists

Audrey J. Powers

Do your shrubs have to have a facelift?

If they’re previous and fatigued, if their flowers are lackluster, there is a way to bring back vitality with out replacing them with new shrubs.

Rejuvenation pruning, also referred to as renewal pruning, is the botanical fountain of youth. It’s a process that stimulates vigorous growth and extra bouquets. It’s a drastic technique that does not require horticultural knowledge, just a pair of pruners. Merely slash all the stems 6 to 12 inches earlier mentioned ground. In a pair of months, you’ll have a brand-new shrub.

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Right before you get to chopping, there are some things to consider. This system is powerful on most shrubs, in individual multistem shrubs this kind of as abelia, nandina and oleander. There are exceptions this sort of as rosemary, especially when it’s aged and leggy, that won’t get well from rejuvenation pruning. Also steer clear of pruning conifers, which are cone-bearing vegetation, with this technique. They do not possess latent buds. This contains crops like junipers and cryptomeria. Renewal pruning a conifer will transform it into a stump.

Really do not rejuvenate trees, even smaller ones. Just about anything with a single trunk will be permanently altered. Crape myrtles and chaste trees will most likely increase back again, but it is possibly not a search you are going to take pleasure in.

Where you make the cuts is not as crucial on shrubs as it is on trees. Random cuts, or heading cuts, can be manufactured anywhere to encourage adventitious expansion together the stem. It will outcome in a dense, proliferation of new development. This is what we want on a shrub, in particular if it has gotten leggy.

Timing is critical. You will want to keep away from rejuvenation pruning in late slide to wintertime. New development can be wiped out by a cold snap. Hold out until finally March, after the frost-no cost day, to prune. Spring is an perfect time, just ahead of bud break, to get vigorous growth. Summer pruning will function on most shrubs, just irrigate to stay clear of drought through restoration.

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You will have to consider flowers. Most shrubs established flower buds on the previous year’s advancement, or outdated wooden. These are normally spring flowering shrubs, these as azaleas, viburnum and hollies. If azaleas are pruned in winter, the flower buds will be taken off. Pink berry-like fruit from hollies will be minimized with less bouquets. The shrubs will get well, but the flowers will be sporadic. No anxieties, the flowers will be back the pursuing 12 months.

If you don’t brain getting rid of flowers for the period, then renewal prune any time is suitable. To preserve bouquets on aged-wood flowering shrubs, prune shortly right after blooms are spent. Azaleas can be pruned until the finish of June without having risking flower bud removal.

Oleander shrub

This oleander shrub was 10 toes tall and leggy. It was lower back to 24 inches in winter. A cold snap killed all the new growth, but it recovered in the spring. Tony Bertauski/Delivered

There are shrubs that bloom on latest-year advancement, or new wood, this sort of as oleander, butterfly bush, abelia and hibiscus. Crape myrtles are also in this class. These are summer blooming vegetation. Pruning in late winter season or spring can promote new advancement and additional flowers.

There are also shrubs that bloom on the two previous and new growth, these types of as some roses, Encore azaleas and some hydrangeas. How do you know what wood, old or new, your plants are blooming on? A Google lookup can clear up most of your issues. “Does loropetalum bloom on previous wood” will get you an remedy.

If you just can’t establish the shrub, there’s an app for that. Photograph This or Plant Snap will detect crops from a photo. In my working experience, these applications get the identification suitable a superior share of the time.

If rejuvenation pruning is also radical and you really don’t want to wait for bare stems to get better, then take into account thinning. Really don’t wait around right until the shrub is overgrown. It is very best applied when the shrub is about ideal measurement or just a very little outside of. Find about a 3rd of the branches with hand pruners. This approach can take a minimal finesse to preserve the natural variety while decreasing the dimension.

Shearing is the final option, despite the fact that this is a own preference. Except if you have a official landscape, geometric shrubs these types of as squares and spheres shed the all-natural attractiveness of a landscape.

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