Gardening by the month

Spring-Flowering shrubs bloom on last year's wood and should not be pruned until after flowering. These include Azaleas, Rhododendrons , Forsythia, Spirea,, Flowering Quince, Kerria, Pieris, Weigela, and Spring bloomers include Abelia, Clethra.


    General Pruning

  • Late January/early February is the ideal time for major pruning and shaping of most trees and ornamental shrubs. Remove diseased and dead wood from any plant. Don't prune spring flowering shrubs until after they bloom.
  • Transplant deciduous shrubs and trees that are still dormant. Once the buds swell, it will be too late. Prune fruit trees prior to the start of new growth.

    Specific Chores in the Garden

  • Fertilizing Shrubs
    Most shrubs respond well to an application of a slow-release fertilizer. Apply according to directions on whatever product you use, distributing it evenly over the entire root area but away from the stem. If your shrubs are healthy, maintaining their vigor, and are at the desired size, omit the fertilizer; you are only increasing your pruning chores.
  • Fertilizing Trees
    If the tree is in good condition, well mulched, or in a natural area, it does not need regular fertilizing. If you fertilize your lawn regularly, you are fertilizing trees in the area also. Drilling holes or using fertilizer stakes is not recommended for homeowners. Newly planted trees may be fertilized for the first few years using 1/2 lb. of 10-10-10 per plant in early spring and again in early summer; a slow-release fertilizer is preferable.
  • Rose Bush Care
    Thin to 3-5 good strong canes and shorten canes to 15". Prune climbers after they flower in early summer.
  • Ornamental Grasses
    Cut back before new growth starts. Mow Liriope (Monkeygrass) to remove last year's unsightly foliage. Ornamental grasses may be divided now.
  • Grapes
    Prune after most cold weather is over, late February/March.
  • Conifers
    such as Pine, Junipers, Fir, Spruce, Yew and Aborvitae will not withstand heavy pruning because most conifers don't carry latent buds below the foliage area and do not readily produce adventitious buds. If a branch is cut back past the foliage area, the rest of the branch will not refoliate. The best time to prune conifers is just after the new growth is completed, usually in late spring or early summer.
  • Established Schrub Care
    like Burford Holly, Clethra, Japanese Holly, Pittosporum, Ligustrum, and similar
    broad-leaf evergreens can be cut back to 15-24" from the ground in dormant season.
  • Summer-flowering Shrubs
    which bloom on this year's wood, should be pruned before new growth starts. On shrubs, 1/3 of the oldest canes should be cut back to the ground. Summer-flowering Buddleia davidii should have all canes cut to 8-12 " from the ground. Crapemyrtle trees may be pruned at this time.
  • Fruit Trees
    The aim of pruning is to keep height down and the tree open for good light and air penetration.