Pruning - rules of thumb
Pruning is a source of confusion and worry to many gardeners. How and when to prune are two of the most common questions asked of gardening experts. Luckily a few simple guidelines provide good advice for growing most types of flowering shrubs. Learn the general rules of thumb for pruning flowering shrubs.
Rule of Thumb Number One: Don’t Prune
Many gardeners labor under the belief that they must prune regularly to keep their shrubs in good condition. Not true. Most shrubs need only one significant pruning session a year and many don’t even need that. Many flowering shrubs will look their best when allowed to grow in their natural form or habit. Frequent shearing encourages lots of surface branching, possibly resulting in an unhealthy structure and reduced flowering. If you really want a tightly sheared look in your garden, choose a plant that is suited to it, such as.
Spring Flowering Rule of Thumb Number Two: Prune Shrubs After Flowering
Plants that bloom in early spring usually produce their flower buds the year before. The buds over-winter on the previous year’s growth and open in spring. If you prune these spring bloomers in autumn or winter you’ll remove the flower buds and won’t have flowers that year. The plants will be ok, but you’ll miss a year of blooms. Most of these plants don’t need heavy pruning every year, just some selective thinning of branches to give them a nice shape.
Rule of Thumb Number Three: Prune Summer Flowering Shrubs In Late Winter or Early Spring
Many summer flowering shrubs bloom on the current year’s growth. Pruning them back in later winter encourages them to produce lots of new growth that summer and will result in more flowers. Don’t be afraid to cut fast growing plants, such as Grevillea down to as little as 1 meter tall.
Rule of Thumb Number Four: It’s OK to Trim Anytime. Really
Gardeners are often confronted with stray shoots and branches in late summer and worry about removing them. Go ahead and cut them back. The plant won’t be damaged by removing a branch or two.
In summary, relax. Your landscape plants don’t need as much pruning as you may think. If you’d rather go to the beach than shear back your landscape plants, go right ahead. The only potentially tricky part of pruning is determining when to trim a particular plant. For a quick review, prune summer bloomers in late winter and spring bloomers right after flowering. Stray or broken branches can be trimmed back any time. If you do make a mistake, plants are very forgiving. You may miss a season of flowers but the plant will recover for the next year.