Twig Tips by Jodie

Posted on May 14, 2016 by jo

Whack 'em!

Whack 'em!  More formally stated, PRUNE THEM!  As soon as those spring-blooming plants are done with their lovely floral displays, get out those pruners and nip them back (if they need it, that is...more on that later).  Forsythia, magnolia, crabapples, viburnums, weigelas, lilacs, quince, spireas, rhododendrons and azaleas can all be trimmed now and it will not affect the blooms for the next spring since they set flower buds on the previous years growth.  DON'T wait until the middle of the summer when they are bothering you because they have gotten bigger than you want them to be.  Or if you do wait and trim them late in the year, don't whine when they don't bloom worth a hoot next spring because you trimmed off their bloom buds.  I can't tell you how many phone calls I receive in the spring when people can't figure out why their lilacs didn't bloom this year.  Now you know!

On the subject of pruning in general, a couple of comments.  The rule for pruning any flowering woody plants is to prune right after they are done blooming.  It removes old blooms which cleans up their appearance and it can help control size and shape.  This is where I just can't help but to emphasize a point.  Pruning should be minimal beucause you should have left enough room for the plant to achieve the size and shape nature intended, or at least, very close to it.  A shrub that wants to be 10' tall CAN NOT be kept 3' without becoming very ugly and eventually dying.  So, please...I'm begging you...look at the tag and/or ask a professional how big that plant becomes and how quickly it will get there.  It may be a darling little puppy now, but it might become a huge St. Bernard in just a couple of years. (I am quoting my friend and fellow nurseryman George Brenn here, he just LOVES to use that analogy!)

Now, I have been known to let a few shrubs get bigger than I should have because sometimes in the spring when they need to be pruned, I'm just a leeeeetle busy.  Currently I have a forsythia that has taken over my back yard.  Oh, well.  It sure does look gorgeous in the spring, you can see it on Goggle Earth.  I am not lying. 

I try and so should you.  Off to hug my giant forsythia - Jodie

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