Pruning Roses, Trees, Shrubs And Other Plants
Winter is the time to think about pruning many plants in the garden. However, never prune for the sake of pruning, prune only the plants that need pruning. Roses are a good example of plants that need pruning, as do raspberries, clematis and sometimes hydrangeas, lilacs and others. So here are a few suggestions of plants that need pruning and possible ways of pruning them:
CLEMATIS - the deciduous vines can be cut back to about waist height, to encourage bushiness, more flowers and a nicer looking vine. Do this in late winter before the new growth starts. Evergreen vines may need some pruning this winter due to freeze damage. Wait until new growth starts, so you will know how far to cut-them-back.
LILAC - right now is an excellent time to cut back suckers. If the bushes are getting too tall or leggy you can prune now or wait until flowering time to prune them. If you want to start new plants from root suckers, dig and separate them between now and late May.
HYDRANGEAS - due to severe winter it may be necessary to prune them back a little more severe than normal. Wait for new growth buds to break, before pruning them. Normally they are pruned in this manner: Old stocks that flowered are pruned half way to the ground, those stocks that grew but did not flower are not pruned at all.
RASPBERRIES - the old canes that produced berries last year, should be cut back to the ground. The canes that grew last year, but did not bear fruit, will bear this year, so they should be headed-back to about five feet at this time, or earlier.
JUNIPERS - if they need pruning, do it as the new growth starts in March, April or May. Dead or diseased branches should be removed immediately.
FRUIT TREES - late winter is the ideal time to prune apple and pear trees. Prune to open up the trees for better light exposure and good air circulation through the tree.
FLOWERING TREES - most can be pruned now. However, pruning now will result in the loss of flowers. So maybe the best time to prune these trees is after they have finished flowering or as they are flowering, and then use the flowering branches in arrangements.
PINES - if needed, prune them as the new growth starts in April or May. Be careful about pruning pines, because you can ruin their shapes by improper pruning. On the other hand, some thinning and shaping of the branches can result in the development of artistic branching patterns.
HYBRID TEA ROSES - these are the large flowering varieties. Late February or early March is the time usually set aside for pruning roses. Prune these roses back to three to five of the strongest (young) canes. Then shorten the canes in this manner. Any cane that is the size (diameter) of pencil, prune back to 4 to 8 inches from the ground; canes the size of your little finger prune back to 8 to 12 inches from the ground; and canes the size of your forefinger should be pruned back to 12 to 18 inches from the ground. Any of the larger canes, thumb sized or larger, prune them back to two feet or less, if possible.
FLORIBUNDA ROSES - these are the bushy small flowering type roses. Simply head the bushes back to about 15 to 18 inches from the ground. Thin out a few of the canes for good air circulation and better light exposure.
CLIMBING ROSES - limit them to four to eight canes. Prune out old canes and keep the younger, lighter green colored canes. Train them against a wall, fence or on a trellis. Climbing rose canes have a tendency to grow upward, pull them down and train them outward so as to open-up and space the canes. This procedure should result in a lot more flowers and a much better looking plant.
TREE ROSES - the same basic pruning procedures are used, except instead of pruning them back to the ground, you should use the graft, at the top of the rose tree stem, as the point of pruning reference. NEVER PRUNE THE MAIN STEM (TRUNK) OF THE TREE ROSE.
PERENNIALS - any old growth left from last season, can be cut-back to improve the appearance of the plants.
FREEZE DAMAGE - it is still too early to assess the damage caused by the severe weather this winter. So pruning of freeze damaged plants should be delayed for several weeks, until new growth breaks, which will indicate the correct place to make pruning cuts.