Pruning and Limbing Up Crape Myrle

Lagerstroemia indica by jacilluch

Bernadette asked TheGardenLady when would be the best time to prune her crape myrtle/Lagerstroemia tree.

You can always prune off dead or broken branches at any time of the year on your crape myrtle or any shrub or tree. You can also cut off the dead blossoms after flowering if you don’t like the looks of them- the ones you can reach, that is.( sometimes this will force the crape myrtle to send out more flowers) If you don’t mind leaving the blossom ends, you don’t have to even cut those lower blossom ends. Some people think they have winter interest and birds like  to eat the seeds in the winter. Of course, you don’t have to bother with the blossom ends you cannot reach at the top of the plant because nature will dispose of them.

The crape myrtle does not need much pruning if you like the shape it is in. It is the kind of shrub I like, the lazy man’s shrub.

Continue reading “Pruning and Limbing Up Crape Myrle”

When to Prune Knock Out Roses

Rose pruning time by kaysare

TheGardenLady received this question from Keith.

I live in Bartlesille. When should I prune my Knock Out Roses?

TheGardenLady has been getting a number of questions about when to prune Knock Out Roses. First of all, if any rose has Dead, Diseased, Damaged, Spindly or Weak branches, these branches can be pruned at any time of the year.

The joy of having Knock Out Roses is that they are easy maintenance roses so you almost don’t have to prune them. In fact, you should not even bother to prune them the first year and during the second year they only need light pruning to shape them.

After that if you want to prune harder to promote healthy growth and encourage lots of flowers, prune your Knockout Rose in early spring after the last hard frost in your area. A hard frost is anything below 24 degrees. To check out your Hardiness Temperature Zone go to the Arbor Day Temp. Zone map and write in your zip code to find out the temperature zone you are in.  See here.

Continue reading “When to Prune Knock Out Roses”

Pruning Chrysanthemums‏

Chrysanthemums all bokehed except one by naruo0720

Chrysanthemums are spectacular this year. There are so many beautiful ones for sale in the stores and nurseries that they are irresistible. If you buy them fully flowered, you can put them in a pretty cache pot or urn to display them. Or you can plant them in the ground.

To be successful and have them return the next year to flower, one grower said that you should be sure to buy farm raised chrysanthemums, not store plants that were forced to bloom this season. And when you buy even the farm raised ones, choose ones that have many buds. Those that are fully flowered have finished their work and may not grow again next year.

Plant them in the ground during cool weather which is what chrysanthemums prefer. In hot weather the flowers will bolt and not open gracefully. In the cool weather the buds will open more slowly to become beautiful flowers while their roots will settle in. And this, the farmer said, will ensure that the plant will return next fall. The chances of forced plants or fully flowered plants to live and produce flowers the next fall are slim to none.  See here.

The farmer’s recommendation to get the beautiful mounds of flowers that growers get on their Chrysanthemums is to cut the plant back three times during the year. The best way to remember the times to cut them back is to remember the three holidays when the pruning time is due. The first date to cut back is on Thanksgiving after the flowers have finished blooming . The second cut back date is when the leaves emerge in the spring and should be done at Easter. And the final date to cut back chrysanthemums before they bloom is on July 4th. Then in the fall you should be rewarded with the beautiful mounds of chrysanthemum flowers you are now seeing in the store.  See here.

Helping an Avocado Tree Grow Branches

Avocado Tree Flowering by TaranRampersad

TheGardenLady received this question from Athena.

I live in Greece and I’ve grown an avocado tree from a seed. It is growing in a pot, it has thorns (I didn’t know they did) and it is growing tall as a signal stem. I read somewhere that if it grows too tall to fast, it will bend and die. What should I do to help it become a tree with branches?

The important thing is to stake the tree with a long enough stake so that it doesn’t bend. Then you may want to prune the avocado tree. Depending on whether you want the tree to be an indoor or outdoor tree will determine your pruning. A few good sites to see photos of staked trees and the pruning of avocado trees are here and here and here.

For pruning avocado trees to be kept indoors, check out this and this.

Pruning the Butterfly Bush

Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) on Buddleia (Buddleja davidii) by Steve Greaves

TheGardenLady received this question from Jocelyn.

I have just returned to the Vineyard after being away for 6 months. My butterfly bush has already sprouted leaves. Is it too late to do a deep pruning? If it’s not too late, how low can I go? Thanks. Looking forward to “spending” Saturday mornings with you on the radio…hope you had a great winter.

There are those who like to keep their Buddleia or butterfly bushes in their natural state and do not prune them. So if you missed the pruning season, you don’t have to worry. Usually Buddleia davidii, the more common buddleia, is pruned in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. When your forsythia and daffodils are blooming they tell you that it is a good time to prune your buddleia davidii. So I think you are not too late if this is the type of butterfly bush you have. Also, TheGardenLady does not know whether this season on the Vineyard has been unseasonably warm and your daffodils and forsythia have finished blooming.  See here.

Butterfly Bush – White Bouquet by donsutherland1

“Shrubs that bloom after spring usually do so from buds which are formed on shoots that grow the same spring. These shrubs should be pruned in later winter to promote vigorous shoot growth in spring.” The butterfly bush is a shrub that blooms on current season’s growth. TheGardenLady likes to prune her buddleia so that she can dead head the flowers easily when they die to encourage more blooming.

Butterfly Bush HDR 2 by Julianne Photography

The buddleia is a hardy plant so late pruning won’t kill the plant, but it might not have as many flowers. If you feel that you must prune but your plant has started sending out new growh, try not to prune the new growth which is where the blooms emerge but prune out some of the older stems.  See here.

PS You are confusing two garden ladies. This GardenLady does not talk on the radio.