Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Putting the Pruning Shears to Work

As winter begins to wane, the urge to get busy in the yard, preparing for the spring, is almost overwhelming for many gardeners. If the lawn is planted in a "warm season" turf-type like Bermudagrass, it's too early to do much work on the lawn. It's also too early for planting much of the vegetable garden. However, the flowering trees and shrubs can be a good place to focus some of that gardening energy.

According to the UGA publication "Pruning Ornamental Plants in the Landscape" by  Extension Horticulturists Gary Wade and James Midcap,
"As a general rule, plants that flower before May should be pruned after they bloom, while those that flower after May are considered summer-flowering and can be pruned just prior to spring growth."
The phrase "just prior to spring growth" means that the window of opportunity is going to be closing soon, for many of the summer-flowering shrubs.Wade and Midcap include not only instructions for how to prune woody ornamental plants, but also a useful list of shrubs and small trees to prune in late winter:

Beautyberry Goldenrain Tree
Camellia Japanese Barberry
Chaste Tree (Vitex) Japanese Spirea
Cranberrybush Viburnum Mimosa
Crape myrtle Nandina
Floribunda roses Rose-of-Sharon (Althea)
Frangrant Tea Olive Sourwood
Grandiflora roses Anthony Waterer Spirea
Glossy Abelia Sweetshrub

For roses, an illustration within the publication (and pasted here) offers gardeners some additional guidance in how to shape the different types of roses. More information about rose culture in Georgia can be found in the UGA publication "Roses in Georgia, Selecting and Growing Techniques."

Additional information about pruning crape myrtle, an especially well-loved landscape shrub, can be found in the UGA publication "Crape Myrtle Culture."

Hopefully, the publications linked above will provide some direction for the gardener's pent-up energies as he or she contemplates the coming of another beautiful spring.