Lawn Care Tips

As a lawn care provider for 20+ years, my aim here is to provide some helpful hints, tips and advice to those who want to increase the health and appearance of the lawn they care for. Whether you are new to lawn care or an old hand, you will find information here that will save you time, money and wasted effort. Thanks for stopping by.


Friday, April 08, 2005

Two Shrubs You Should Never Prune Until Just After They Have Flowered

[NOTE: Today’s subject - although a bit off topic - is information that I felt was appropriate for this time of year.]

Several shrubs (and some trees) produce flowers only on the branches formed during the previous year’s growth. That is to say, no flowers will be produced on branches that are two or more years old. Yet many a homeowner - caught up in Spring fever - starts pruning their landscape shrubs very early in the Spring, snipping off most of last year’s growth.

They may unknowingly be removing the branches and buds that would have become the only showy flowers of their shrubs to appear that year. Many of the shrubs and ornamental trees that bloom in Springtime start with buds that were developed the prior Summer and Fall. This is one of the reasons why these plants can bloom so early in the new season. The buds are already formed and are just waiting for warmer temperatures.

One of the earliest blooming shrubs is Forsythia. It doesn’t take much warmth for Forsythia to bloom. One year in Michigan, during a freak warm spell, I actually saw Forsythia flowers popping in January. Another well known early Spring flowering shrub is Lilac. Like Forsythia, Lilac buds were formed the previous year and are only waiting for sufficient warmth to bloom. If in the early Springtime, a homeowner prunes away the previous year’s growth on either of these two shrubs, they will be denying themselves what would have been a dazzling display.

Actually, there are more than two shrubs or trees that you want to avoid pruning until just after they have flowered. I have listed some of the most common plants below.

Flowering Quince
Bridal Wreath (Spirea)
Mock Orange
Flowering Almond


It is important to note here that once these shrubs and trees have flowered they will begin producing - albeit slowly - the buds for next year’s flowers. So, the bottom line here is, if you want to prune these plants do so as soon after they have flowered as possible. Do not wait until later (during the Summer or Fall) as by that time the buds will have already started forming.

The only exception to the above would be lightly pruning a few budded branches in the very early Spring, so that they can be taken indoors and forced to bloom. This, however, is outside of my area of expertise so I would recommend that if you are interested in this technique you search “forcing buds indoors” in your favorite search engine.

NEXT TIME: Don’t Force Your Summer Lawn In and Out of Dormancy


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