Casseia bush, when to prune

clysta(8)March 16, 2010

I might be spelling this wrong because I cannot find any reference to it on the internet. But it is a feathery med. green bush with gorgeous yellow flowers blooming right now in S. AZ.

My HOA has been cutting back these bushes each year just as they are blooming. I want to give them some sound advice on when to prune these shrubs. When I complained last year I was told that they will grow back and bloom again. Sure they did, but not until this spring. I cannot understand why any landscaper would cut back a bush during it's blooming season. Help!

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Hi clysta,

I didn't see your post until I was looking for something in the Gallery section today.

I don't know why the landscapers won't leave our flowering shrubs alone. Just when they get ready to bloom or are forming the budwood that produces flowers they get buzzed.

This is a 3-fold issue. The shrubs usually grow too large because they are overwatered in common areas. That forces the maintenance crews to trim to keep them within bounds. Also, it seems the landscapers want to leave evidence that they actually visited the property per their contract - hence the pruning. Lastly, shearing takes less time for the crews.

If Cassia shrubs (Senna artemisioides is the most common) are being watered correctly they only need to be pruned once or twice a YEAR. Because they bloom from late December through April the best time to prune is in late April or early May. The seed pods can be removed at this time as well. If they are pruned in the fall it interferes with the bloom cycle and you may not see the attractive butter yellow flowers which are slightly scented.

Desert shrubs should never be sheared. It creates a dense layer of leaves in the outer 3 or 4 inches of the shrub that prevents light from reaching the center of the plant. As a result, the middle of the shrub is bare and dead looking. It also destroys the natural form of the plant and reduces flowering.

A better pruning procedure, and one that is endorsed by the International Society of Arboriculture and is included in the ANSI A300 Pruning Standards, is called 'selective' or 'natural' pruning. To reduce the size of the plant, hand shears are used. Yes, this takes more time, but if the watering is correct it only needs to be done once or twice a year.

You live in Casa Grande right? I know a landscaper (and certified arborist) that works in Maricopa. His name is Doug Duport and you can reach him at,, (520) 586-3255. I'm sure he could make a presentation to your HOA if necessary.

I hope this helps. I'm going to send a pruning guideline to your email address. I also have a template for a landscape contract that many HOA's have used as a guide when hiring a contractor if you (or your HOA) need it.


Here is a link that might be useful: Pruning Planting and Care

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 12:26PM
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