Fall Pruning

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall PruningI asked a guy down the road one time when he pruned his shrubs. He told me his dad had taught him to prune when the blade is sharp. Once in a while I will break this out on someone when the topic comes up. They generally get the same perplexed look on their faces as I did the day I heard this philosophy.I asked one of my mentors a few years back when to prune in the fall. This guy runs a 10 acre wholesale shrub and perennial nursery just to give you a bit of background. He told me he would wait until after a few frost in the fall to start pruning shrubbery and cleaning up perennials. The rational was that if you prune before the frost you can promote new growth that will just get burned off by the coming frost. Wait till the days are getting short and the plant is really going into dormancy to prune the old sage told me.On evergreens, never prune between August 1 and the frost. I have seen some serious burn on yews and assume you will get it on other evergreens like Chamaecyparis and Juniper. Broadleaf evergreens like Holly and Boxwood would likely be effected the same way. Perennials can be cleaned up after the frost as described. To add to the discussion we generally do not dead head them after August first because we do not want them to continue to flower. We want them to go to seed and start storeing their energy down in the crown of the plant so they come back even stronger the following year. If you dead head your plants to the very end of the season you can cause them to come back weak or not at all the following year. All this being said the guy down the road grows nice plants and is very successful at gardening. The wholesale guy makes a good living with his methodology. I have blended the two philosophies this year and have pruned some Weigela and Hydrangea back early just for kicks. If I kill something or screw things up I will let you know next year. Peaceā€¦

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» Kevin from Warsaw