Pruning Flowering Shrubs

Ever wonder when various flowering shrubs and vines should be pruned? Here is a collection of Garden Tips I posted on Facebook in mid-January.

• Crape myrtles should be pruned only as needed to remove unwanted branches and trunks entirely (leave NO stubs). Under no circumstances should you ever “top” a crape myrtle. Please help us spread that word! If you have to use topping as a means of controlling crape myrtle height, move that plant to a more spacious spot and replace it with a smaller variety.

• Althaeas are woody types of hibiscus, more commonly called “roses of Sharon.” They bloom in late spring and into summer, so winter is the time to do any pruning. However, prune only to remove errant branches. No regular trimming is needed, and they do not respond well to formal shaping. As much as possible, leave them alone.

• Pink/blue hydrangeas (“florist,” or “mophead” hydrangeas) should be trimmed (if needed) only after they bloom in late spring. Prune in late February only if damaged by cold. The shrubby oakleaf hydrangeas can be pruned lightly to shape in winter.

• Oleanders and gardenias bloom in spring on growth made the prior season. Do any reshaping after they flower. Remove only damaged or errant shoots. Winter damage should be pruned out in late February, but plants may not bloom for a year or two. Winter pruning will cost you that following spring’s flowers.

• Madame Galen or one of the other improved trumpetcreepers (trumpetvine), should be trimmed, reshaped and thinned in mid-winter. Avoid excessive trimming, however, or the plant will be extremely vegetative (few flowers) the following growing season.

• Sweet autumn clematis, evergreen wisteria (NOT the common spring-blooming type) and other summer- and fall-flowering vines are also trimmed in the winter.

• Spring-flowering shrubs and vines (incl. wisteria, Carolina jessamine, Lady Banksia rose, quince, forsythia, azaleas, camellias, bridal wreath, etc.) are pruned immediately AFTER they bloom – not in winter.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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