We always remind you to refrain from pruning trees and shrubs that flower in spring. Most of them flower on old wood, which means this spring’s buds were set last fall. You’ll probably remove those buds if you prune now. But what about trees and shrubs that bloom on new wood?
The ever popular hydrangeas top this list. Rose of Sharon and Buddleia (butterfly bush) are other examples. Although these can be pruned anytime in the fall after they bloom, they should be pruned by the time they begin putting out new growth in spring. Otherwise, the old dead canes will detract from the fresh, new growth, and the flowers won’t look as spectacular.
There are some varieties that bloom several times a year or even throughout the growing season. These endless summer varieties bloom on both old and new wood. Reblooming plants include Boomerang® lilac, Sonic Bloom™ weigela and Bloom-A-Thon® azalea*.
Don’t prune these in spring. Rather, prune them after each flush of flowers, cutting the stems to about half their length. This will encourage them to put on new growth, including flower buds. Give these plants a final pruning, cutting their stems in half in the fall, after their last blooms have faded.
Plants that bloom only on new wood should be cut back to four to six inches at this time if you didn’t do it last fall. This may seem like radical pruning but you want to keep them growing in the shape nature intended, rather than spread out with new canes and flowers mixed with long, dead canes.
If you want to enjoy the blooms of these prolific plants without having to do the maintenance that goes with them, our landscape professionals would be happy to identify your varieties and prune them at the proper time to assure you of maximum blooming. The first pruning should be made quite soon so it’s imperative to act now.
* Trademarks and Registered Trademarks of Proven Winners.
The Santa Clara Valley used to be famous for vast and mostly stone fruit orchards. Their very specialized pruning was done in winter. After growing up with that, I hate to see the pruning of flowering peach trees, which, to me, seem like they should be pruned like fruiting peach trees. They get chopped aggressively after bloom, which is the time of year that fruiting trees should not be bothered. Such pruning promoted fluffier twiggy growth, which will bloom for the following season.