When it comes to your garden, you may have a few different goals you’d like to achieve with your favourite shrubs. Whether you are looking to maintain the well-being of your plants, encourage new growth, enhance unique features or remove unwanted shoots, pruning can be the technique to do so.
What is pruning?
Pruning is the act of cutting away dead or overgrown branches and stems to increase growth and the overall health of a plant. Pruning is a practice that can be done on trees, shrubs and bushes. Today, we’re going to focus on ways to prune 5 different shrubs.
Not only does lavender have irresistible beauty and a memorable scent, they’re also a long blooming semi-shrub that can make a wonderful addition to your garden. Pruning is one of the ways you can encourage your lavender to continue growing and sustain its look.
As lavender grows, you’ll notice that the base stem starts to turn into brown wood. This is the part where the green growth of the shrub meets the stem. Find that spot, and follow the stem 2 to 3 inches up from the woody part of the stem and that’s where to cut. Make sure to leave about 2 or 3 inches of the green left on the woody parts so they can continue to bloom. If you leave just the woody part, it won’t grow.
Pruning lavender is best done at least twice a year. The spring is a great time as that is where the new growth comes out, and midsummer is another time to reduce the woodiness of the shrub and to keep it producing.
Hydrangeas, when pruned, can live very long, vigorous lives. One of the biggest determining factors of when to prune hydrangeas lies within the type of hydrangea you are working with. If the hydrangea you have blooms on old wood, you’ll want to prune them immediately after old flowers fade. If the shrub blooms on new wood, the shrub can be pruned before the new growth appears.
In general, hydrangeas don’t require much pruning. In fact, they are rather low maintenance shrubs and when properly taken care of, you can count on them to continue blooming.
Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon already has a prominent look and growth rate that pruning can continue to encourage. By pruning you can give your Rose of Sharon bush some more flowers and an even fuller appearance.
Rose of Sharon blooms on new wood so pruning in the late winter or early spring is best so that you don’t get rid of any flower buds. When pruning this shrub, it is best to remove any damaged branches as you see them grow as well as any branches that are growing in the wrong direction. You’ll also want to remove older, inner branches that may be blocking sunlight or preventing circulation throughout the plant.
“To prune or not to prune,” is the most often asked question. It should be noted that incorrect pruning will never bring an early death to the clematis. At worst an inappropriate pruning will only delay flowering. Furthermore, if all varieties were left unpruned they would all flower very well. However, as is explained below, the flowers would not necessarily cover the plant as well as they otherwise could.
OUR FIRST TIP ON PRUNING APPLIES TO ALL CLEMATIS VARIETIES. THE FIRST FEBRUARY OR MARCH AFTER PLANTING ALL CLEMATIS SHOULD BE CUT BACK.
At this time, you should be able to see leaf buds developing as your plant breaks dormancy. You should leave two sets of buds on each stem between where you make your cut and soil level. In subsequent years the following recommendations should be used.
IN AN EFFORT TO SIMPLIFY THINGS, WE HAVE USED THREE MAIN PRUNING CATEGORIES.
GROUP (A) are varieties that flower only on growth produced the previous year. Pruning should consist of cutting out weak or dead stems as soon as they are finished blooming in May or June. Pruning later than June or very severe pruning will result in fewer blooms the following spring. The very popular montana varieties fall into this group and even though they will survive in our colder climates, if the tops are nipped off by extreme frosts, blooms that should have occurred in early spring might occur in the fall, if at all.
GROUP (B) Group B is broken down into two sub groups:
GROUP (B) (1) are the varieties that flower on wood that has been hardened by the previous season’s growth. Normal blooming patterns for this group consist of a heavy flush of flowers in May – June on the previous season’s growth followed by a second smaller flush of blooms in September on the current season’s growth.
GROUP B (2) are the varieties that bloom simultaneously on last year’s growth and the current season’s growth. Group B (2) varieties normally bloom from June to September continuously. For pruning purposes these varieties can be treated either as group B (1) or group C and for that reason work extremely well in combination plantings with group B (1) or group C varieties. If planted alone a group C pruning regime every second year is recommended.
For both group B (1) and B (2), in late February or March a light pruning with some variation in the length of the stems will help produce a well balanced group B plant. Any weak or dead wood should be removed at this time and a careful spacing of the remaining stems is all that is required. The spacing of the stems will allow room for next springs mass of blooms to open pleasingly.
A SEVERE PRUNING WILL REDUCE THE NUMBER OF BLOOMS AT THE PLANT’S NEXT FLOWERING, BUT WILL NOT HURT THE PLANT; IN MANY CASES IT WILL HELP PRODUCE A BETTER BALANCED PLANT.
If your group B clematis has been neglected for many years, it can be rejuvenated by severely cutting back most of the old growth. It is always amazing how quickly new growth appears. Separate and direct the new shoots or they will soon grow skyward in a tangled mess.
GROUP (C) These varieties bloom only on the current year’s growth. Blooms commence in early summer and continue through to fall. Plants should be cut back in late February or March to two strong sets of buds on each stem as close to ground level as possible. This will provide a plant with blooms that start near ground level and continue to the top of the plant. The majority of the group C clematis start their new growth very close to where last season’s growth ended; so if left unpruned they will very quickly grow out of control. If you want to grow a group C clematis through a tree or have it bloom in an area above its normal blooming height, this characteristic can be used to your advantage. You can prune an established plant at almost any height or not prune at all to accomplish your objective. Keep in mind that group C clematis bloom on the current season’s growth, so that if treated in an untraditional way the blooms will be at the top of the plant and a bare stem will gradually appear over a few years. This provides an opportunity to plant a lower growing group B variety to hide the bare stem and to extend the blooming season.
If left unpruned the majority the new growth of a Group C will start very close to where last season’s growth ended. Keep in mind that group C clematis bloom on the current season’s growth, thus if left unpruned the blooms will be at the top of the plant and a bare stem will gradually appear over a few years. This could provide an opportunity to plant a lower growing group B variety to hide the bare stem and to extend the blooming season. If you want to grow a group C clematis through a tree and have it bloom somewhere up high, leave it unpruned to encourage quick vertical growth and use its leggy habit to your advantage.
REMEMBER, YOU CAN PRUNE AN ESTABLISHED CLEMATIS AT ANY HEIGHT OR LEAVE IT ENTIRELY UNPRUNED TO ACCOMPLISH WHATEVER YOUR OBJECTIVE IS.
Roses can be an intimidating shrub to prune, but there’s no need to worry. Roses tend to only need pruning at least once a year. Timing of when to prune your roses may vary, but a general rule of thumb is to prune in the spring before the blooms start to emerge.
The most common places to prune rose bushes are the dead or damaged woody parts of the bush. You can also remove very thin and brittle branches as well. It’s best to cut about ¼ inch above the buds that are facing away from the plant at a 45º angle. A good indication to make sure you’ve cut enough is if there is a white flesh exposed. If not, you can cut lower until you see it. The result of pruning your roses will be new growth and beautiful blooms.