With spring arriving just around the corner, there are some necessary garden tasks to accomplish. This involves the pruning back of many summer flowering shrubs and vines.
Those include plants like Hydrangea Paniculata, Buddleia (Buddleia/Butterfly Bush), roses, Russian Sage, Salvias, Lavatera as well as summer and late summer flowering vines like clematis. Over-wintered ornamental grasses should be cut back as well, before the next season’s growth begins (generally a few inches above the ground).
Although some shrubs may have specific methods of pruning, a general rule of thumb is to concentrate on removing overcrowded growth, crossing stems, dead and damaged or drying branches. Opening up the center of the shrub will increase air circulation and greatly reduce pests and diseases.
Some shrubs, like Buddleia, can be cut back hard, while lavenders and winter heather should be lightly sheared back. Delay pruning spring blooming shrubs like rhododendrons and azaleas until after they bloom.
Avoid pruning anything in the Prunus family (fruiting and flowering cherries, plums, anything with a stone), to avoid risk of silver leaf disease and diseases that enter freshly injured wood in wetter weather. These are more safely pruned in the drier months of summer.
Finally, clean up any fallen leaves to prevent disease, then mulch and fertilize freshly pruned shrubs to encourage new growth in spring.
By Rob Sculley/Shorty’s Help & Advice