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Your gardening answers; Relax, that pruning can wait till spring.

'Is it time to prune butterfly bushes and rose-of-Sharon?''

Many factors influence the best time to prune various plants, but allow me to reduce the art of pruning flowering plants to a single, simple statement. "Woody plants that bloom in the spring like forsythia and rhododendron are pruned (if needed) immediately after flowering, and those that flower in mid- to late summer and fall are pruned (if required) in the spring.''

Inasmuch as butterfly bushes and rose-of-Sharon both bloom in the summer, they should be pruned in early spring.

A major reason that these plants are included in our yard planting is so that we may enjoy their flowers. Spring-blooming plants set their flower buds in mid- to late July. Therefore, pruning done in August or later in the year removes flower buds that will result in fewer to no blooms next spring.

Summer-blooming plants, on the other hand, do not carry flower buds over winter, so they are pruned in the spring to shape plants and control new growth. These plants develop flower buds after they have made their vegetative growth. They are on a different cycle.

Plants that first produce leaf buds, then leaf and stem extension, to be followed by flowers are said to flower "on one-year-old wood'' or "growth of the current year.''

Plants such as forsythia bloom on flower buds that were developed the previous year. Thus, they function on a two-year cycle (flower buds formed one year and bloom the second). They flower "on two-year-old wood.''

Shrubs grown not for their flowers, such as yews and junipers, are pruned (if needed) several times a year during the growth cycle.

Pruning should only be done for a specific reason. Often, it is for size control or to promote shape or structure.

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Title Annotation:Weeklies
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Oct 3, 2014
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