Pruning deciduous shrubs Gardeners are eager to get out and do something in the landscape this time of year. One chore that can be taken care of now is pruning certain shrubs. Remember, not all shrubs need to be pruned (i.e., witch hazel), and certain shrubs, which will be identified later, should not be pruned this time of year. Shrubs are pruned to maintain or reduce size, rejuvenate growth or to remove diseased, dead or damaged branches. Deciduous shrubs are those that lose their leaves each winter. Evergreen shrubs maintain foliage all year and include yews and junipers.
Deciduous shrubs are placed into three groups:
• Those that flower in the spring on wood produced last year;
• Those that flower later in the year on current season’s growth; and
• Those that may produce flowers, but those flowers are of little ornamental value. Shrubs that flower in the spring should not be pruned until immediately after flowering. Though pruning earlier will not harm the health of the plant, the flowering display will be reduced. Examples of these types of plants include forsythia, lilac and mock orange. Shrubs that bloom on current season’s growth, or that do not produce ornamental flowers, are best pruned in late winter to early spring. Examples include Rose-of-Sharon, pyracantha and spirea. Pruning during the spring allows wounds to heal quickly without threat from insects or disease. There is no need to treat pruning cuts with paints or sealers. In fact, some of these products may retard healing. There are three basic methods used in pruning shrubs: thinning, heading back and rejuvenating. To learn more about these different methods, contact me or come to our spring gardening workshop and attend our session on pruning shrubs; how, when, and why.