If you’ve ever spent any time landscaping, you’re likely familiar with flowering shrubs.
Thanks to their extreme versatility, ease of care and maintenance, and ability to grow in extreme conditions, they’re the shrub of choice among amateur and veteran landscapers alike (not to mention one of the best values around when it comes to shrubbery).
What are Flowering Shrubs?
For the purpose of this blog post, “flowering shrubs” refer to any woody, multi-stemmed ornamental nursery stock which safely grow year-round in a “Zone 5” climate such as the “hardiness” Zone 5 we enjoy here in Oxford County, Ontario.
Oddly enough, not all the shrubs classified as “flowering shrubs” actually flower i.e. “Burning Bush” (euonymus alatus). However, they still remain in this category, and are popular among home landscapers for a variety of purposes.
Why prune your Flowering Shrubs?
Why do we need to prune? It would be so much easier if we could just plant them and forget about them.
Easier maybe, but not better.
Although flowering shrubs are rather simple to grow, and for the most part trouble free, there is still a minimum of maintenance that should be done, including;
Check the plant’s health and overall appearance. Cut out dead, diseased or unsightly branches.
Control the plant’s growth. It is best to select varieties that are not too big for the space, but some species can be kept trimmed to the size you want.
Trim for renewal growth. Some plants benefit from having some of the older, mature branches thinned out. Some examples are Silver Leaf Dogwood, Forsythia, and Smokebush.
Encourage flowering. You need to know the right time to prune for each individual species.
Maintaining a hedge. Depending on the types of shrubs you used this needs to be done at specific times of the year.
At the end of the day most of us plant shrubs to improve the look of an outdoor area, so why wouldn’t you want to spend at least some time making sure your efforts don’t go unappreciated?
How to prune your Flowering Shrubs
Tools for Pruning
You don’t need much in the way of fancy equipment, but some essential are:
Pruning Shears – Invest in a good pair, as these are what you will use the most.
Saw- Any small wood blade saw will work.
Lopers – A long handled pruner for removing larger branches.
Rubbing Alcohol – Before moving to another shrub sterilize equipment to avoid spreading pests and diseases.
When to prune your Flowering Shrubs
Knowing when to prune is key!
The mistake most backyard gardeners make is they either prune too early or too late. If you prune certain plants too early then you may cut out flower buds that are to set flowers on old growth wood (last year’s growth).
Other plants bloom on new growth (this year’s growth), so by trimming before flowering, you encourage more shoots and enhance the flowering. And hey who wouldn’t want more flowers?
To simplify, here is a basic list of popular flowering shrubs that grow well in Oxford County and when you should prune them.
Prune After Flowering (old wood) – Barberry, Dogwood, DAphne, Deutzia, Elder, Hydrangea (big leaf), Holly, Lilac, Mock Orange, Ninebark, Rhododendron and Viburnum
Prune Before Flowering (new wood) – Butterfly Bush, Hydrangea (Annabelle and Panicle), Potentilla, Rose of Sharon, Rose, Spirea and Weigelia
Like I said, this is the most basic list. If you are in doubt send me an email and I’d be glad to tell you when the perfect time to prune is for your particular shrub.
So there you have it. An easy maintenance guide for flowering shrubs that grow well in Oxford County.
A little pruning sure does go a long way to keeping those flowering shrubs blooming and your landscaping looking lovely.