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What Plants to Prune Now & Why

by Grady Cobb, Maintenance Foreman

It’s that time of year again…the early spring when plants are starting to wake up from their deep winter slumber. It’s also that time of year where major structural pruning and thinning of certain plants should be done in order to take advantage of the last of their dormant cycle. However, there are a few plants that you should avoid major pruning during this season—as they are currently sending most of their energy and sugars back up into the branches in order to flower, like lilacs and forsythia. Although spring flowering plants are ones to avoid, there are lots of other plants that you can do some hard pruning, like burning bush, viburnum, red twig, dogwood, roses, or a rose of Sharon.

During this time, we first remove all the old and dead branches. Really thinning them out and cutting them back to reduce their size is best. We take time to ensure we prune these plants back to a node on the branch where there is another branch or lead emerging. It keeps from having a twig that looks just chopped, rather than an intentional location. The plants also experience less stress when you structurally prune them as the temperature and sun is less burdensome on the plants. This is instead of pruning when they are full of leaves trying to receive the energy from the sunlight to help with the photosynthesis process that helps make its food.

At M.J. Design, we spend a lot of time teaching and training our staff, and also our clients. We are very intentional about utilizing proper horticultural pruning practices. No two plant types are the same. Each wants and needs to be treated and cared for differently. We love that we design with a lot of different plants because they create beautiful gardens. But we make sure to tend to the special, individualized maintenance as well, so the plants continue to grow, thrive and bloom as they were intended.

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