Late Winter and Early Spring Pruning in the Landscape

Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 09:21 AM.

In the next weeks or so, before warm weather arrives for good, you should do the routine pruning on your landscape ornamental.  Pruning isn’t the most complicated thing in the world, but it is an important part of good cultural care in your landscape.  So, it’s important that you do it right.  In this article I will give some pointers on why pruning is necessary.  Mu information was provided by Emeritus Professor of Horticulture Dr. Robert J. Black, of the University of Florida’s Institute of Foods and Agricultural Sciences.

Pruning is the removal of plant parts, typically shoots, branches, fronds and flowers to improve health, control growth or influence fruiting, flowering or appearance.  A variety of specific situations call for pruning, and if you don’t do it, your landscape won’t look as good as it should.

Obviously, if a plant has dead, weak or damaged wood or wood that’s infested with insects and plant disease prune to remove it. 

When transplanting, prune to foliage to balance the top of the plant with the root system.  Rejuvenate older plants in your landscape by pruning away some of the old stems and branches.  This will stimulate new, more vigorous growth.  Prune to make a plant look like you want it to.  If you want a certain size and shape, pruning is essential.  Finally prune to make a plant produce more flowers or fruit.

Deciding when to prune can be confusing.  In Florida we can grow so many different plants with direct pruning requirements that it’s impossible to pick one right time to prune everything in the landscape.  You can do light trimming and corrective pruning anytime of the year.  But the best time for pruning depend on the kind of plant you have.

Most of the flowering plants in the landscape should be pruned right after they flower.  Deciduous plants, plants like Dogwood, Crape Myrtle and Jacaranda which go dormant during cold weather, should be pruned during the winter or early spring.  Most evergreens in this category includes plants like Podocorpus, Ligustrum, Hollies and Wax Myrtle, can be pruned anytime, but it is best to prune before growth starts in the spring.

Shrubs that bloom in summer and fall things like Hibiscus, Roses and Oleander should also be pruned before the first flush of growth in the spring.

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