Budding plants mean busy gardeners

Be careful what you wish for–

Spring  comes on quickly in the South, and there’s almost no time to sit back and enjoy it.   Already I’m behind on the spring garden chores.

First on my catch up list–the pruning.  I should have done this the last week of February–and already it’s March 8!  See what I mean about getting behind?

Now I am not an avid pruner.  If you want to turn pruning into an art form, stop reading now and find someone who is  a master at it.

I just do enough to get by–tidy my garden and rejuvenate my plants.

A few rules to start with:

Prune now–you’ll stimulate spring growth, not cut it off.

Cut out all dead wood.  Some shrubs tend to have a lot of die out, often in the center.  Oak leaf Hydrangea, Jerusalem Sage and Roses come to mind.

No green flat tops or gum drop shapes–unless you live in a topiary garden.  Don’t shear, cut branches, then stand back and look before you cut any more.

First on my list, I prune the roses–I grow old-fashioned roses and the modern Knockout plants.  Both need only light pruning.  Cut out dead wood, floppy canes, and anything that’s way out-of-bounds.  Do shape the plants, but don’t cut off more than a third of the shrub–not sure why but I read that somewhere.

This rose bush needs pruning! Before it attacks our mail man.

If you grow hybrid tea roses, they need to be cut back hard every spring.  Leave just a few strong canes, about 18 inches tall .  This invigorates the plant.  (How many spindly old hybrid tea roses do you see around?  That’s because they haven’t been pruned)

2) I grow clematis in my rose bushes and other shrubs.   Cut these back every spring to a strong bud.

3) Some shrubs can be cut all the way back to the ground in February and treated like  woody perennials.  My Vitex is one of these plants.   Last year husband Bill used the chain saw on it–By summer, Vitex was blooming its head off again (and not climbing into the gutters)

The tall blue plant blooming behind the bird bath is Vitex--four months after it was chain sawed to the ground.

Many old shrubs can be handled this way.  For example–this Sweat Breath of Spring was chain sawed to the ground about 5 years ago– Talk about a rebound–

But start with the dead wood–Then prune the roses.  And do it this week.  There are a lot more March chores ahead.

An hours work and everything looks better--Now haul these to the street!

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