Pruning Tips for Northeast Florida Landscapes
A good starting point for pruning tips with any plant is to remove dead, diseased, or damaged stems as soon as you see them. Dead stems attract insects and invite diseases to develop. Also remove crossing branches, water sprouts (vigorous upright growing shoots that form on trunks or side branches), and suckers (vigorous shoots that develop near or from below ground).
What to Prune When
Spring- Flowering Trees and Shrubs
Early season pruning tips for spring bloomers, such as azalea, bear flowers on wood formed the previous year. The best time to prune them is late spring — immediately after they finish blooming. If you prune them later in the growing season you’ll remove flower buds and decrease the amount of spring bloom.
Most hydrangea types bloom on old wood. Prune these types of hydrangeas before midsummer. If you prune them in winter or early spring, you’ll be removing flower buds. With newer reblooming types, such as the Endless Summer Series which bloom on new growth, timing of pruning is less critical. Even if you cut off some of the flower buds by pruning the old stems, the plant will bloom on the new growth.
Shrubs With Showing Blooms
Cut back shrubs grown primarily for their foliage (such as Loropetalum and Ligustrum) almost anytime: except in late autumn. New growth that starts after late season pruning won’t harden off properly before winter. Major pruning is best done when it is dormant.
Shrubs such as boxwood and podocarpus are often sheared to form a hedge. To maintain a solid wall of green, shear the new growth frequently during the early part of the growing season. Stop in late autumn.
Prune climbers and old garden roses that bloom only once per year after they finish blooming. Repeat bloomers, including hybrid teas, floribundas, knockout, and drift shrub roses are pruned mostly to shape the plant or to remove winter-damaged canes. If they become overgrown, cut them back in early spring.
Most perennial flowers look best if you remove faded flowers. This is called deadheading. As a bonus, many perennials will push out another cycle of blooms after deadheading. If your perennial flowers become too tall and leggy, or flop open in the middle, try shearing them back to 6-12 inches above the ground. This type of haircut causes them to become stockier.
Deadhead annual flowers regularly to keep them blooming well. Removing the old flowers prevents them from setting seeds and allows plants to put more energy into blooming. Some annuals, such as petunias, sprawl and develop bare stems at their bases. As with perennials, you can shear these rangy plants to force more compact growth and renewed bloom.
On young trees, it is important to remove suckers from the base of the tree. Mature citrus trees do not require pruning of the canopy except for substantial injury or after a disease or freeze damage. Unnecessary pruning will reduce fruit production. Pruning of the canopy should be reserved to prevent trees from crowding other plants or buildings. Be sure to remove vertical shoots. Make all pruning cuts flush with the trunk, since stubs may be attacked by rotting organisms which could damage the tree. If you must prune, timing can be tricky and varies by variety. Shoot for after harvest and before flowering.
Plus, remember that for comprehensive solutions to your specific lawn, garden and landscaping need contact Earth Works of Jacksonville online and at 904-996-0712.
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