It’s that time of year, in my zone 6b-7 garden, when some of my plants need cutting back. The general rule is when the forsythia are blooming, it’s time to grab those pruners and loppers and get to work. Well, the forsythia are blooming, so it’s time to get pruning.
The first participants of the pruning game are my roses. I only have two varieties and both are climbers. Climbing roses don’t have to be pruned, but doing so helps keep them at a manageable height, removes old canes and promotes new growth.
One of the roses is an old variety call ‘New Dawn’.
‘New Dawn’ was first introduced around the 1930’s. It is a very disease resistant, very hardy, and a VERY thorny rose and does great in the heat and humidity of Arkansas. The roses are light pink and slightly fragrant. I planted several along my steel pipe fence that borders our driveway and county road. It’s best for this rose to have strong support and the first year it grew about six to eight feet. I decided to leave it alone and, after several years, it looked wild and out of control. Some canes had gotten at least fifteen feet long and stretched well into the field. So, I cut them back. I wish I could tell you I carefully looked at every cane, visualizing its place and purpose on the plant, but I got caught up in the moment and once I started cutting, not one cane was spared. I was in such a pruning frenzy, I didn’t get any before and after shots. Sorry.
I pulled myself together and headed toward the ‘Zephrin Drouhin’. This rose is well behaved, no thorns, no disease or bug problems, smells heavenly and is my friend. I have this rose in a bed that gets afternoon shade and it rewards me with an unbelievable show of beauty around Mother’s Day.
The next group of plants I tackle are the hydrangea’s. Now, before you run out and cut back your hydrangea’s you need to know what species you have. Mine is Hydrangea arborescens and blooms on new wood or new stems so cutting back now will not affect the blooming season. Some bloom on old wood meaning the stems that have been on the plant since the last year (the common pink and blue varieties) will be the ones to bloom. If you cut these back now, you will not have any blooms for the season. And that’s just wrong. So, moral of the story, know your hydrangea.
Next are the grasses. Now is a good time to trim these back to about six to eight inches. This does not have to be done, but I don’t like to look at the dried grass mixed with the foliage of this dwarf zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis).
One thing I do NOT prune back are my Crepe Myrtles. I love their natural shape and they bloom their ever-lovin’ heart out in the worst part of our summer. My crepes are a smaller variety, about 10 feet, with pinkish-red blooms. They bloom the entire month of August when all I want to do is stay in where it’s cool.
So, I don’t understand why people love to cut these shrubs back to almost nothing. Do these people do this to all of their trees? No, that would look silly. Then why pick on the poor Crepe Myrtle?
Around these parts, this horrific pruning method is called Crepe Murder. What I am about to show you is graphic. For those with weak stomachs, prepare yourself. For those with small children in your lap, parental discretion is advised.
For more on Crepe Murder’s and exposing those that commit this heinous crime, check out The Grumpy Gardener’s article at http://thedailysouth.southernliving.com/2012/02/17/grumpys-2nd-annual-crepe-murder-contest/
Remember to prune responsibly.