pruning shrubs/perennials

spruceitupOctober 9, 2008

i am relatively new to gardening...i guess you call it. last year, i removed nearly all of the foundation plants/shrubs around the house because they were overgrown and troublesome, not to mention rather ugly and dated. i made some fairly educated decisions on the new replacements and purchased some really good qulity stuff...and fairly substantial in size for being new plants.

i live in central indiana (zone 5) and i need some advice on how, when to prune these plants so they maintain the desired size and don't become unmanageable. please forgive me for not researching the pruning recommendations on this site or online. i have dial-up and it is soooo painfully slow. i hope to get some feedback soon as i have some time this weekend to attempt the pruning...provided it's timely. with this said, here's some of what i have.

diablo ninebark, everlow yews (evergreens that are to stay about 2-3' tall), juniper...with arching foliage that's to stay about 4' tall), dwarf miss kim lilac, liriope, perennial gereniums, little henry sweetspire, holly (it's got some berries now and should get about 4-5' tall), and lastly, double knockout roses (i want to keep these fairly small in size).

i appreciate any help you might give with some tips for pruning...time of year, amount to be pruned, etc. thanks!

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I've got dial-up, too. Maybe I've got a newer, faster computer... but you've got the upcoming winter to study up on pruning techniques.

And you'll have most of your weekend free because it's a little late in the season to start thinking about pruning the shrubs on your list - they don't have the time to harden off before cold weather sets in and you're quite apt to suffer more than normal dieback or the removal of next year's blooming growth.

ninebark: The best time to prune is after it blooms, from mid-June to mid-August. And they can take a hard pruning.

yews: yews can be pruned twice a season, once after each growth spurt usually late spring and again mid-summer.

junipers: prune in March or April when the soft new growth appears.

lilacs: immediately after flowering being careful not to go too far because next spring's flowering buds are produced in June and July, so avoid removing them ... If you don't care about sacrificing blooms, cut it back to whatever you want. If you want the blooms, best to simply deadhead the spent flower spikes and not go down beyond a couple of inches below the spent stalk.

Holly - you can pretty well LIGHTLY prune holly any time of the year; okay to prune when they're dormant in the winter.

Liriope: cut down to the ground in the SPRING before new growth emerges.

Don't know about perennial geraniums.

Knockout roses, I suspect like other rose types, should pretty much be left alone aside from doing any winter protection you might do and taking out only any dead or deceased canes. Any winter dieback could be pruned out in the SPRING.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 3:49PM
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It's a bit late now, but here's something else to think about. It is generally not the best plan to prune plants to "maintain a desired size". It is less stressful for the plants, often increases flowering potential and is far less work for you to select plants that will tend not to outgrow the spaces you have available for them. Obviously, this does not mean you should never prune but you can avoid a lot of unnecessary work and sometimes wonky looking plants that fail to bloom as well as possible if you select those that will stay in size without regular pruning attention.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 6:55PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Each kind has a different approach. Bookstores and libraries have books just on pruning, which tell how to handle the different types.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 10:04PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Most flowering shrubs should be pruned right after they finished blooming. Most others in this zone should be pruned in spring and that removes the damage from winter. Pruning now in our part of the country is a no-no.
Perennials are best left alone until they die back naturally and then you can trim them off. But of course with all the wind we get in winter, if you wait until early spring most of the work is done for you.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 7:54AM
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