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 Post subject: Proper pruning
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 11:07 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2004 9:45 am
Posts: 92
Location: Fort Worth,TEXAS
I know that I'm to prune my rose bushes in February, but when exactly am I supposed to prune the rest of my perennials? I've been told (by an organic person) that cold weather actually can hurt my perennials if I leave the long branches on there instead of pruning them. Guess I was thinking about what would a forest-type environment do? Figured I'd prune February or so, after the really cold weather. So what should I actually do???


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 10:05 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2003 1:52 pm
Posts: 2017
Location: Dallas,TEXAS
I only dead-head my plants just prior to spring weather. I would recommend that because depending on the exact plant, some of them die back to the ground, some lose part of their branches and some just lose thier leaves.

Here's some good information about pruning perennials (IMO) from the Texas Discovery Garden:

Real Natives Don't Deadhead!
How many times have you looked out at your landscape in the winter and told yourself, "I must clean up that garden, it sure looks messy"? Well, sit tight and let nature take its course. Nature is messy and there is no one out there to clean it up. (When was the last time you saw any magic elves scurrying around in the woods and meadows trimming anything back?)

Here are a few good reasons to wait just a little bit longer before you break out the shears:

Flowers make seeds and seeds are food for wildlife. Those fluffy brown things are a sight for sore eyes to flocks of doves, mockingbirds, cardinals, etc. Not to mention our furry friends (yes, most of those are rodents but think of rodents as snake or raptor food!)

If you want to reproduce your natives you need to wait until the seeds are "ripe" or brown and dry. Picking seeds too soon will leave you with nothing for next year.

Do you really know how far back to prune those perennials? Some perennials die all the way back to the ground every year and some don't. If you wait until new buds swell in the spring you can see just how far to prune without removing too much top growth.

Freezes kill back plant growth. If you prune your natives too early you risk having the plant die back even further with the next freeze. Leaving old growth on until you see sprouts in the spring will give you a trimming guide.

Many times old dead growth comes right out of the ground in the spring and is much easier to remove than it would be in the fall. Just pretend you are a deer grazing those new shoots. You'll knock all those useless branches off and crush them into mulch!

_________________
Sandi
Texas Certified Nursery Professional
Texas Master Naturalist
Organic gardener
Tree-Hugger
Native Texan


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:56 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2004 9:45 am
Posts: 92
Location: Fort Worth,TEXAS
Thank you! I, too, prefer to wait until spring or just before spring to start pruning. As you said, my yard looks messy, but then so does a forest in late fall/winter. I don't normally prune my butterfly bushes or beautyberry bushes, as well as my other bushes that require pruning, til just before spring; my birds enjoy sitting in them too much! I know my salvia looks terrible, as do my canna, but hey! As long as I know I'm not hurting them by leaving them alone until warmer weather, then I'm ok. No one sees that back yard but me, the dog and the birds! Hopefully, the rodents will stay in the compost pile. I've seen them there, but that's ok. At least they are there & not in my house!

Thanks again for confirming my beliefs. Now, to wait on warmer weather, closer to spring!


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