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

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 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

 

In bloom this second week of July

In bloom this second week of July in my zone 4 to 5 gardens are these showoffs:

 

 

In addition to the beauties above, more roses are in bloom this week:

Roses and storm clouds

I must have at least twenty rose plants in my gardens. I love perennial roses in the form of climbers, bushes, shrubs and miniatures in my gardens and in containers on my deck.  Most of them are in bloom right now.  Some continue to bloom all summer, while others are repeaters meaning they bloom for a bit now, drop their blossoms, and rebloom again later in the season.  My camera does not do justice to their colors that range from the palest of pink to hot pink to deep red, soft buttery yellow to dark lemon yellow,  pale mauve or lilac shades of purple to almost wine in color…

 

 

 

These storm clouds showed up suddenly today while I was out admiring, deadheading and photographing the roses…

 

 

I barely had time to get me and my camera in the house and close all the windows before the big black clouds burst and the rain came pouring down.  We did not get hail here, but friends and family just a few minutes north of me and an hour south did.

 

Mirror mirror on the wall…

Instead of “mirror, mirror on the wall”, I should say “gardens, gardens on my route,  who’s the fairest of them all?”  I know that “all” does not rhyme with “route”, but let me ensure you get the picture, literally…. Continue reading

November roses

Most of the roses in my gardens and my clients’ gardens are still looking lovely, thanks to the beautiful autumn weather we have had:

 

These gorgeous blooms are like a farewell to the gardening season as Gardens4u winds down for 2016 here in Ottawa…