As spring finally begins to show her true colors, we gardeners hear the outdoors calling our names. You’ll likely be inclined to get some work done in the garden and flowerbeds. Before you start with the pruners and loppers, find out when your plant will bloom. Pruning at the wrong time can actually take away buds and blooms.
Early spring is a good time to prune some summer blooming shrubs and trees, like Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus and Buddleia davidii, butterfly bush. However, some summer bloomers, like the Lagerstroemia or crape myrtle, are already generating summer blooms. Here is USDA hardiness zone 7, crape myrtle is best pruned in late winter. Research your plant before you start pruning, including pruning times in your particular USDA Hardiness Zone.
Spring blooming fruit trees and ornamentals should have been pruned earlier, usually in late winter, as well. With an unusually cold season as we had this winter, many trees and shrubs in my yard had to exist with limited cutting back. Spring blooming shrubs are sometimes best pruned when bloom time is finished. This is often the safest method to use.
Types of Pruning
Two types of pruning are primarily used by professionals; thinning out and heading back. Another method, called renewal pruning, is more severe. This pruning method is a great way to rejuvenate an older shrub that has lost its shape or appears to be growing out of control.
Thinning is the removal of branches at the trunk. This allows remaining branches to get the sun they need and prevents an overcrowded appearance.
Heading back is the shortening of selected stems, usually cut just before a blossoming node or a bump that will later become a bloom. This is commonly the most effective pruning for fruit trees. Keep the shape of the tree or bush in balance on all sides.
Renewal pruning is taking ¾ (or less) of the size by shortening all branches overall. This encourages new overall growth to give your bush a healthy and attractive appearance. This is the method used on trees and shrubs that were split or broken because of winter weather earlier in the year. Damaged or broken branches can be pruned and removed at any time.
Pruning is a means of keeping your trees and bushes healthy and looking their best. Just make sure blooms are not already forming before you make the cuts.