Which plants you should prune back in the fall

 

For some reason, the fall season is when many gardeners get the itch to prune back plants in their gardens.  The guidelines are as follows, at least for our zone 4 to 5 gardens here in Ottawa, Ontario:

  • if a shrub blooms early (before June) wait until after flowering to prune.  Some examples of early bloomers that need that old wood to bloom on are lilacs, forsythia, bridal wreath spireas, sand cherries, weigela, ninebarks, rhododendrons, viburnum, cranberry bushes, flowering dogwoods and magnolias.
  • if the shrub blooms after June, it can be pruned back in the fall or in the early spring when new growth is visible.  Examples include Snowball and PeeGee Hydrangeas, spireas (except for bridal wreath), Butterfly bush, smoke tree, hibiscus (rose of Sharon), and red stemmed dogwoods.
  • woody shrubs like boxwoods, junipers and cedars can be trimmed back in the fall too, but also throughout the growing season (spring and summer)
  • some shrubs are best pruned while dormant (late fall to very early spring, late February to early March)  These include barberries, smoke bush, crepe myrtles, spireas (except bridal wreath variety), dogwoods, and cotoneasters.
  • to rejuvenate shrubs that flower poorly, are overgrown or straggly, cut them back to just above the first bud above the soil while the plant is still dormant.  Shrubs that do well with this drastic treatment include spireas, lilacs, ninebarks, forsythias, barberry, weigela, blue mist, forsythia, honeysuckle, and potentilla (cinquefoil).  You may sacrifice the flowers the first season after this rejuvenation, but the plant will be healthier.
  • deciduous (non-evergreen) trees are best pruned when dormant (late winter) as well.  It is much easier to see the structure of the tree before the leaves come out.  Winter pruning also prevents the formation of bacteria and disease in the cuts. The wounds will heal quickly as new growth starts shortly after pruning.
  • dead branches can be cut off any time in the season.
  • after the first frost, remove any leaves from roses and apply mulch to the crowns. This prevents the plants from heaving from the ground during freeze/thaw cycles. You can cut the longs stems of the most tender floribundas, hyrdrid teas and grandifloras back to 20 inches before winter too to prevent them from breaking off under a heavy snowfall.  Another tip for tender roses is to apply a collar around the bush and fill it (loosely) with leaves.  Wait to prune others back until daffodils start to bloom in the spring to ensure the ground temperature is sufficiently warm.  Dead or broken branches can be cut off in the fall or any other time of the season.  Suckers can also be removed in the fall, cutting them out as close to the base of the plant as possible.

rose-1744950__340

 

Perennials can be, but do not have to be, deadheaded (remove dead blossoms) and cut back in the fall.  Remove sturdy flower stalks (coneflowers etc) right back to the foliage at the base of the plant.  Some gardeners like to leave these stalks on the plants over the winter for birds and their snow-covered beauty.  On softer plants simply remove the browned and dead looking, limp or soggy foliage (daylilies, peonies, bleeding hearts etc) and cut back their stems to six or eight inches from the ground.  I like to do everything I can in the fall because spring seems to be so short lived these days and I run out of springtime hours in the gardens.  Whenever you clean up your gardens, remember to harvest the seeds for future (freebie) plants as I did for my cottage garden.

pruning-shears-24437__340 copy

pictures from Pexels and Pixabay

Advertisements

October blooms

I love this fall (summer like) weather we are having here in Ottawa.  Many of the perennials in my own and my clients’ zone 4 to 5 gardens are still in bloom even though the calendar says October…

 

 

I cannot ever remember a clematis reblooming in October as this beautiful pale purple one has…

20171005_124928

Favourite and least favourite perennials

With all the gardens I visit in a season, I am bound to have my favorite and least favorite perennials.

Spiderwort, AKA tradescantia or widow’s tears are my least favorite this year.  They spread like crazy throughout gardens, flop over onto other plants and turn yellow and slimy as soon as the weather gets cool.  The only good things about them are their pretty color (purple) and the fact that they will rebloom if cut back after the first bloom…

 

pictures from Pixabay

 

My favourite perennials this season have been coneflowers, especially the newer colors available.  Due to the cool summer we experienced, the coneflowers have been blooming pretty much all summer.  I have peachy orange, red and a few shades of pink coneflowers that are still stunning in my gardens…

 

 

I am still in love with all of the ornamental grasses; there seem to be more beautiful varieties every year.  Blue oat grass is my favourite this year in my zone 4 to 5 gardens.  I love its steel blue coloring and the fact that it is much hardier, larger and sturdier than the blue fescue I have tried previously…

20170914_095820

What are your favourite and least favourite perennials of the season?

In bloom this third week of August in my zone 4 to 5 Ottawa gardens

There is not much new in my zone 4 to 5 Ottawa gardens this third week of August, a  new (orange) color of coneflower, pink garden phlox and a new flush of roses…

 

 

 

The pink and red coneflowers are still quite striking (although they were a little beat down by the storm we had just before I took their picture) and the yellow pom poms are still brightening up the back of a bed…

 

 

This week in my clients’ gardens I took some pictures of some awesome containers of annuals.  Annuals are always great this time of year to fill in with their pops of color.  The shades of purple in the last ones really caught my eye…

 

 

 

In bloom this second week of August in my Ottawa zone 4 to 5 gardens

Here are the newest perennial blooms in my own zone 4 to 5 gardens this second week of August;

 

This ornamental grass is my favourite although it is only an annual here in zone 4 or 5.  It makes a beautiful centerpiece for a container or it can be planted right in the garden!

grass 1

 

Still strutting their stuff, these perennials are still looking great:

 

On their way out (unfortunately) are my gorgeous lilies.  They will return bigger and better than ever next year though!  Every client I have planted some of these lily trees for have commented on how spectacular they are, well worth the price.

 

I hope you are enjoying these weekly walks through my gardens…

whole garden

In bloom this last week of July in zone 4 to 5

In bloom this last week of July here in my Ottawa (zones 4 to 5) gardens are more lilies, more roses, more of everything that was in bloom last week.

The lilies are absolutely spectacular, there must be close to thirty blossoms on the three plants at my front lamp post and more in my back garden…

 

My favourite rose this week is a pale, blush pink:

13

 

As I was walking around my backyard, a pair of cardinals were flitting through my plum tree watching me. The red male really stood out against the green of the leaves, he came to within a few feet of me…

8