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Home > Expert Advice > Gardening Tips and Information > Pruning > Pruning Tips for February & March

Pruning Tips for February & March

                                                            TRIM CAREFULLY 

February is a busy time in the garden and pruning is one of those needed chores.  

Before you set out to do some pruning, we want to share with you a couple important tips.  First, remember to have your pruners sharp and clean before you begin, and oil them when finished to prevent rust.  Secondly, it is very important that you know the basic characteristics of your shrubs or trees so that you know the proper time of year to prune. 

Pruning at the wrong time of year and excessive pruning are both common causes
of failure to bloom.  Heavy pruning promotes vegetative growth and may prevent flower bud set.  Not all plants should be pruned in late winter.  For example, azaleas and rhododendrons should only be pruned after they have bloomed.

In general, pruning correctly helps plants grow strong and healthy.  Plants pruned the proper way retain their natural shape.  Light and air circulate through the plant allowing it to develop full foliage and not just tufts of green at the tips of branches.  A Virginia favorite plant is the boxwood.  You want to prune selectively this time of year and NEVER SHEAR!

Here are some basic pruning tips for February and early March:

 1.  Always remove any weakened, crossing, rubbing, broken, and diseased branches from shrubs and trees.

 2.  Prune your Crape Myrtles...plants that flower in summer bloom on new growth, so
you want to remove some of the old wood and remove last years' seed heads.

 3.  Prune fruit trees and bushes.  Moderate annual pruning encourages consistent fruit production.

 4.   Prune your roses.  Prune hybrid teas and shrub roses to 12" to 18".  Be sure to make your cuts on a slant, about 1/4" above a good bud.

 5.  Cut back liriope.  "Monkey Grass" needs to be pruned now before new growth appears.

Pruning can be intimidating to many gardeners.  Education is the key to applying
success pruning techniques to your shrubs and trees and to ensure their long-term health.  Be sure to consult a professional horticulturist whenever you have any pruning questions.