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Posted by msjoyceh z9 No. Calif. Coast (My Page) on
Tue, May 9, 06 at 9:43

I would like to cut back my heathers as some are getting too big. Is there a proper time of year to do this? I cut one back this year after it bloomed and it looks brownish. Will it green up again?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Pruning

You can shear them after they bloom and in fact, should.

Don't cut into dry brown wood though because they don't regrow from it.

Re: Splitting a plant

We have just moved into a new house and have 2 very large heather plants in the yard which have been neglected for probably 10 years. I have trimmed them after they bloomed and now am thinking of splitting them into 2 or more plants and relocating them. Can this be done?

RE: Pruning

No, heaths and heathers don't divide well (and not fond of transplanting, either) if at all, although you can create "new" plants by layering.

If they have been neglected for that long a period, with no regular pruning as buyorsell88 indiciates should be done, it is unlikely you will be able to bring them back into an attractive, manageable form. They will be very leggy with a lot of bare wood at the base and with a tendency to splay outward, revealing that woody interior. You simply cannot cut back enough successfully to regain a rounded, densely foliaged form. It may be most effecient and provide the best look to simply remove them and start over. Heaths and heathers grow quickly, which is why it is important to be on top of the annual shearing. In no time new plants will have filled in.

RE: Pruning

I agree, they don't respond well to rejuvenation pruning or transplanting. Rip them out and start over.

RE: Pruning

You say not to cut into brown wood. I bought a bunch of heathers to plant on a hill we just landscaped originally thinking they were juniper. They were clearanced for end of season at Lowe's.

They all have decent green middles, but a lot of dead brown stuff around the outside. They're all pretty small as well too (I think they are 1 gal containers). I just have a couple more to plant. Was going to wait till spring then cut off the brown parts -- will that work?

RE: Pruning

thanks for the info, rockspray. I didn't plant the others that deep, but will be sure to do so with the remaining plants. will add some extra dirt around the base of those i did plant to make sure they're protected.

research has told me that i shouldn't really need to protect them in zone 7 (southern md), and that he complimentary dead foliage from lowe's will help. would you agree?

since figuring out that these are heathers, i've been turned on to all the fun varieties of heath/heather - i may eventually hit you up for some winter-bloomers. thanks!

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