January 27, 2016
We escaped the big blizzard but not by very much. Hopefully that is the trend for the rest of the winter.
If you look out the window, you get itchy to do something in the yard. With little snow on the ground, you could do some pruning in the yard. The question is, what can and more importantly, what is it that you can’t prune this time of the year. A reader had sent in a question about pruning back rosebushes. Generally speaking, it is best to prune back rosebushes in late winter or early spring. The reason for this is that rosebushes don’t have a thick protective bark. If you prune them back now, you will have cuts that stay as open wounds. The cut areas are a potential area for dry winter winds to pull moisture out of the cuts. Most of our winter winds are a very dry wind. The dry winds could completely dry out the canes and by spring you would have a dead rose bush.
Another example of a plant not to trim this time of the year is your maple tree. As most of you know, maple syrup comes from the sap that flows up into the tree during warm days followed by cold nights. Some years this happens in February and some years it happens in March. No matter what the sap season, a cut on a maple branch this time of the year will cause the plant to “bleed” sap once sap begins to run. Ideally the pruning would be done in late fall after the leaves have dropped.
The other plants that you would not want to prune at this time of the year are your spring flowering shrubs. These plants have formed their flower buds for their spring bloom. If you prune back these plants now, you will be cutting out your flowers for the spring of 2016. These plants would include Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Forsythia, Mountain Laurel and Early flowering Spires to name a few. However if you have massively overgrown Forsythia, you can cut off some of the tips of the branches and bring them into the house. Place the sticks into a vase of water and soon you will have beautiful yellow flowers in bloom.
Needled evergreens and non-flowering evergreens respond well to pruning in late winter in the late winter.
Well, that’s all for this week. I hope this has helped you out in making a decision on what you cannot prune back at this time of the year. If you need something to do, how about sharpening your pruning shears. You could also take your lawn mower in for a tune-up. Beat the spring rush. I’ll talk to you again next week.