Every year I stand in my dormant garden, shears in hand eyeing the landscape. It could be the cabin fever. Or just the overwhelming urge to do anything in the garden, but I really feel a compelling need to give my flora a little trim. The big question is always; what can be trimmed without hindering that season’s new growth? For a list of plants which are best pruned while dormant, or in early spring just before they push out their new growth, read below

  • Potentilla,
  • Butterfly bush
  • Crape myrtle
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Shrub roses
  • Smoke bush
  • Blue beard
  • Hydrangea*
  • Alpine currant
  • Barberry
  • Buffalo berry
  • Burning bush dogwood
  • Honeysuckle
  • Ninebark
  • Pea shrub, purple leaf sand cherry,
  • Sumac

Hydrangea tips*

Hydrangeas which bloom late in the summer likely flower on new wood and are safe to be pruned during the spring. Varieties such as Paniculata, ‘PeeGee’ and ‘Limelight’ as well as arborescens like ‘Annabelle’ fall into this category. Any early flowering hydrangea such as pink, blue, or white mop heads and lace caps, or oak leaf forms are better pruned directly after blooming as they bloom on last year’s growth.

Other Pruning Tips

  • When pruning shrubbery a good rule of thumb is to remove one-third of the oldest branches each year. Remove any over-grown branches or those that show disease or insect damage.
  • Don’t prune any thing that blooms on old wood, generally these are spring or early summer flowering plants. Shrubs such as lilacs, forsythia, mock orange, honeysuckle and some of the spireas.
  • Use the right equipment, for larger trees and shrubs be sure to use a pruning saw and a pair of lopping shears, for smaller plants and shrubs use a sharp set of shears that have been recently cleaned and oiled.
  • Clear up any old or rotting plants. There was not a great deal of precipitation this winter so many perennials seem to just be rotting on the ground.
  • Shrubs and bushes that are grown primarily for their foliage including evergreens are also better pruned in early spring. To create dense barriers continue to prune hedges or topiary lightly throughout the season, paying special attention to the removal of any stray branches.

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