HERE ARE GREAT TIPS FOR PRUNING, FROM GEORGIA LLOYD
Guidelines for beautiful plants in a fabulous garden, luring you to linger: Thinning is the operative approach and will let light and air into the interior encouraging new growth from inside. It also helps to have a time horizon of several seasons. Even a 15 foot tall rhododendron can be beautifully confined under a window over time, or a Legoland style mushroom shaped yew can revert to its natural look. Anticipation is fascination, week by week, and year by year.
1. Revitalizing almost always works: Rejuvenating our plants usually gives much better results than replacing them with new nursery grown plants. When we prune we prune above ground, the root system is supporting less than before, and will generate as much as before. (Likewise, divided perennials do better.)
2. Stems need light: Virtually all landscape plants depend on their own photosynthesis to nourish and sustain them. Leafy parts need light. Landscapers’ evergreen shrubs suffer when sheared, as they put out the new growth at the surface, shading the interior. Thinning opens the interior to daylight, and shrubs also need to be narrower at the top to allow light below. Growing parts need light and air.
3. Leave some green on each stem: Evergreens nourish their stems with food made by needles at the tips of each stem. When pruning evergreens, remember each stem needs some greenery on its own stem for sustenance. Thus, in pruning evergreens, i.e. yews, junipers, pines, spruces, and more, shearing often hurts the tree or shrub. Best to cut just above a fork leaving enough needles to support the remaining stem or branch. Shape one cut at a time, week by week, year by year.
4. Leave shoots heading in the right direction: While pruning, choose a fork with a sprout going in the direction that one wants to encourage, cutting just above the fork makes a side shoot the main shoot.
5. What to prune: Leave some of this year’s shoots. Many flowering shrubs bloom on the second year’s growth. Thin but don’t shear shrubs wanted for their flowers; shearing often removes the stems setting new flower buds, especially with lilacs and forsythia. Keep flowering shrubs within the size frame desired, find the fork below stems that have overrun the desired boundary and remove that stem at its branch point. Again – shrubs need to let light in from above and below; somewhat open and narrower at the top helps.
6. Where to prune: Cut one stem at a time just above a fork, often a third of the way back towards a main stem to stimulate growth where you want it. Many shrubs produce hormones at the twig tips to suppress sprouting of side shoots lower down on the same stem. If leggy, a plant that seems a little thin, can also be encouraged to grow more densely by pinching off stem tips.
7. When to prune: Often a little at a time is best. For dense overgrown deciduous shrubs winter is an easier time to take out old wood. The remaining stems will then generate more greenery.
8. Deadheading: Herbaceous perennials and flowering shrubs set seed after flowers are spent. To maximize bloom for the next season, remove the fading blooms together with the little fruiting pods as the seeds begin to form. (With rhododendrons, and also lilacs, it can be dramatic to see the side shoots sprout beneath a place where a spent bloom has been carefully removed.)
9. Or just cut out the dead: Shrubs that look terrible can suddenly look beautiful, if only a little dead wood is removed – remember light was always needed and stems die if they don’t have light – or maybe ice fell off the roof and broke a stem, or crossing stems wore off the bark.
10. Finally most important: Remember leaves will only grow where there is enough light for photosynthesis. Even hedges need light down into the middle. Some advise removing one third of a shrub each year. Naturally that depends on how vigorously the plant will grow, wherever it is sitting, and how happy it is there. Still anticipation is fascination, week by week, and year by year.
Questions welcome: Email: GLloplloyd@gmail.c