Twig Tips by Jodie

Posted on March 20, 2017 by jo

Prune it NOW!!!

Prune it NOW!!!  The first day of spring and I'm already bossing you around.  Now, at this very minute, you ask...it's a little chilly outside!  No, you may wait 'til it warms up a bit, I reply.  Well, what exactly should I be pruning, you want to know.  Well, I'm here to tell you.

So, first things first.  Cut back all of those perennials that you missed last fall (either on purpose or by accident) and don't forget the ornamental grasses.  Now is the time to get that stuff cleaned up before the new growth appears.  Then spend some time on some of your shrubs.  If you've let your burning bush and boxwood get a bit out of hand, now is a good time to prune them back when it's easier to see what you're doing before they start growing.  They won't look so "whacked back" after they push that new spring growth.  Early spring is the time to rejuvenate some of your older flowering shrubs, especially the ones that bloom on the current year's growth.  I know that you have some in your yard, almost everyone does.  Potentilla, Japanese Spirea, Rose of Sharon, smooth hydrangeas (Annabelles...snowball types) and P.G. types (big, cone-shaped flowers) all can be cut back and thinned.  I wait a little longer in the spring until after bud-break to trim a few other things like Butterfly Bush, Knock-out Roses, Caryopteris and Endless Summer Hydrangeas.  If you wait a bit on those then you will be able to tell how far to trim them back by where the live buds are starting to grow then trim them to that point and even them out.  Wait to prune your spring-flowering bushes until right after they are done blooming.  These include forsythia, lilac, quince, viburnums and don't forget those trees that flower in the spring like crabapples, magnolias, dogwoods and redbuds. Thin them out, remove dead wood and cross branches, cut out some water sprouts and suckers. 

There is a form of pruning called coppicing that involves cutting a plant down to the ground in the spring to encourage a lot of new growth.  This can be done for shrubs that have gorgeous foliage like Black Lace Elderberry and Golden Privet or that have brilliantly colored new stems like Red and Yellow Twig Dogwood.  If you spend some time cutting these things back this spring you will have some gorgeous plants to look at this summer and next winter.  Do it on a day when you need to take out your frustrations on something....just go out there and have at it, prune until you are totally exhausted.  Better than kicking the dog. 

So I've given you a little project to perform in the next couple of weeks, I know that as soon as Mother Nature blows her spring air on us that we will all want to be out in the yard doing some work.  Sharpen up those pruners and trim a little bit, you will thank me later this summer when your shrubs are lookin' good!

Off to trim some hydrangea back (maybe I will wait 'til the sun warms things up a little...)        Jodie

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