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Fall is for Gardening

Fall   Fall Wagon  Celosia Intenz

Autumn is one of the best times of year to plant flowering shrubs, evergreens and trees in southern Illinois. Read more [+]

Protecting Your Plants for Winter

Snowy Eucalyptus  Artic Fire Dogwood

There’s really not much to do getting your plants ready for winter. But a few easy steps make the difference between plants merely surviving and actually thriving despite the weather. These tips are especially important for newly planted evergreens, trees and shrubs. Read more [+]

Dwarf Reblooming Shrubs

Plant breeders are geeks. But they know that many of us want smaller sized versions of our favorite shrubs and plants that bloom all season. Classic shrubs like lilac, hydrangea, butterfly bush, and weigela have been bred to rebloom and stay smaller. Read more [+]

Pruning Hydrangeas

Hydrangea Th Big Easy  Hydrangea Pinky Winky

We are often asked “When is the best time to prune a hydrangea?” Confusion surrounds this topic because there are so many different types of hydrangeas. But here’s the important difference and easy instructions. Hydrangeas bloom on either old wood (flowers formed during the previous season or last summer) or new wood (flowers formed on stems that come up during the current season). And here’s the low down on how to prune these two different types:

Method One: For plants that bloom on last year’s wood –flowers formed during the previous season.

This is for Mopheads and Oakleaf hydrangea. Mopheads are the popular plants with large ball-shaped pink or blue flowers. Oakleaf hydrangeas have white flowers and large rough leaves shaped like oak leaves that turn reddish in the fall..

  • Flowers on these plants are formed on stems during the preceding summer, so if you cut them back in the spring, you’d be removing the flower buds. These plants are best trimmed right after they flower, in mid-late summer.
  • This group includes the widely planted mophead ‘Endless Summer’, the newer ‘Let’s Dance’ series, most forced florist hydrangeas and oakleaf varieties like ‘Snowflake’.

Method Two: For plants that bloom on new wood- flowers formed this season on the new growth.

This is for Smooth hydrangeas that have round, usually white flowers and for the Panicle hydrangeas that have conical flowers.

  • Flowers on these plants are formed on new stems each spring, so they can be cut to the ground in the fall, winter or early spring
  • Smooth hydrangeas include the popular Annabelle hydrangea and the improved Annabelle ‘Incrediball’ and the new pink Annabelle ‘Invincibelle Spirit.’
  • The paniculatas with cone- shaped flowers are plants like ‘Limelight’ and  ‘Little Lime’, the bi-color ‘Pinky Winky’ and the dwarf hydrangea ‘Bobo’.

Many of the newer hydrangeas bloom on both old and new wood, so pruning isn’t such a big deal.And you really never have to prune your hydrangeas at all. But at some point they might just get too big, too floppy or begin blooming poorly. Pruning improves air circulation and sunlight penetration. Spent flowers and dead branches can be removed anytime of the year. Call us for more help or bring in a branch and flower if you need help identifying your hydrangea.

hydrangea lets_dance_big_easy-Let’s Dance Big Easy little_lime_hydrangea-Little Lime incrediball_hydrangea-Incrediball

Late Winter- Early Spring Pruning

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple in Summer

Japanese Maple Winter

Japanese Maple in February

Late February or early March, is a great time to prune many shrubs and trees. Plants are still dormant, leaves are gone from deciduous plants and it’s easy to see the basic structure of the plant. Pruning is done for several reasons:

  • To Thin
    By trimming out any diseased, weak or excess growth, you improve the vigor of your plants. Light and air circulation is also enhanced.
  • To Reduce
    Periodic pruning safely reduces the size of your plants so they don’t outgrow their desired height and interfere with power lines, block windows or collapse during winter storms. Also larger fruit and flowers are produced on healthy pruned plants.
  • To Rejuvenate
    Severe pruning may be required on older shrubs and trees that have never been trimmed. Cutting dense overgrown forsythia or privet hedges all the way to the ground encourages fresh vigorous plants that bloom better.

Use clean sharp tools and prune on a mild dry day. It’s better to prune lightly and frequently instead of drastically all at once. The goal is to maintain the main stems and branches or the basic structure of the plant.

There are some shrubs, like the popular pink and blue mophead hydrangeas, forsythia and lilac that bloom in spring on old wood or growth from the past summer season. Trimming these plants down in spring would remove their flowers. Butterfly bush, crape myrtle, and spirea all bloom on new wood, or stems that emerge new each spring. So these plants can be pruned hard now to control height and prevent floppiness. Call us if you’re not sure.

Pruning Summer Flowering Shrubs

Weigela Spilled Wine  Potentilla Happy Face

By mid to late August most summer blooming shrubs like hydrangeas are finished blooming. Now is a great time to cut back the spent blooms. Any other flowering shrubs that have slowed down, like spirea, weigela, butterfly bush, and crepe myrtle can also be trimmed back about one third of their size.

Trimming to a third of the original plant size encourages healthy new growth. If you’re wanting to control height, you can prune as much as one half the size of your plant. You can also do any major pruning in mid to late winter when the plants are dormant, without leaves and it’s easier to work on them.

Early spring bloomers like forsythia and lilac should be pruned after they bloom. So do not trim these back now as you might remove their spring flowers.

Knock-Out roses can be pruned almost any time of the year. Sometimes it’s easier to tackle these thorny big boys during the winter months when their foliage is gone. Cooler weather also makes this big job more pleasant.

Stop feeding any summer flowering shrubs by late August. Plant growth needs to slow down preparing the shrubs for winter dormancy. Be sure to keep your plants watered through the fall, especially if they are newer plantings.

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