by G. Bosley a.k.a. “groundhog”

Honeysuckle in Winter

As winter draws to a close it’s time to start thinking about what needs pruned.  Did some of your trees start to shade your garden too much last summer, or did some of your flowering shrubs fail to bloom as beautifully as years past?

There are four basic times of the year for pruning.  When the plant is dormant during the winter; before the plant flowers; after the plant flowers; and in the fall or spring.

While plants are dormant at this time of year it is good to trim and remove any dead or broken branches.  It’s much easier doing this when there are no leaves.  Old shrubs that have become out of shape or wide spreading and lacking in bloom will benefit greatly if you remove the dead and older branches.  They will begin to produce new shoots this summer and thicken up.  Some may still be light in bloom for this year, but usually the blooms increase in the second year.  By removing the dead and old or broken branches you are increasing the health of the plant and it will put the new growing energy into new shoots and flowers rather than wasting energy on the weak stems.

There are a few plants which should not be pruned in the spring.  These are considered bleeders.  Meaning they have increased sap flow in the spring and if pruned the sap can be lost through the pruning wound.  The plant may not totally die but it will become stressed.  Stressed plants are unhealthy plants. 

You should wait until late May or June before pruning some of these   plants:  

*Birch / Betula                  * Black Locust / Robinia                    *Hickory / Carya *Locust / Gleditsia          * Mulberry / Morus                             * Poplar / Populus  *Linden / Tilia                   * Walnut / Juglans                               * Maple / Acer     *Magnolia                            * Boston Ivy / Parthenocissus       *Grape / Vitis     *Virginia Creeper / Parthenocissus

The gravitational pull of the New Moon increases the sap flow in plants so it is best to prune during the ascending moon or after the Full Moon when the gravitational pull is less.

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