Revitalize Your Flowering Shrubs Through Pruning

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November 12, 2009

man pruning shrubWithout maintenance, most flowering shrubs eventually get overgrown and leggy or they start to lose their flower power. As tempting as it is to yank them out and start over - don't do it! Many can be revitalized with a couple of cost saving pruning techniques.


Two Basic Techniques: Renewal and Rejuvenation

Renewal Pruning (Thinning)

In renewal pruning, the shrub is pruned (thinned) gradually over the course of three years. This is done in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Each season, only one-third of the oldest and thickest mature stems are removed at ground level. This method helps maintain the original height and shape of the plant over time, while stimulating its root system to send up replacements. Any water spouts that develop are also cut back to different lengths and encouraged to develop into strong new branches. This type of pruning doesn't work very well on "twiggy" shrubs with multiple stems. It also won't restore a shrub to its natural form so it isn't a good solution for shrubs that are extremely overgrown. Use this technique to boost your shrub's flower power and to keep them vigorous and fresh.

Three Year Schedule

Shrubs and flowering shrubs that respond well to renewal pruning:

Rejuvenation Pruning

Rejuvenation pruning is quick and easy, but it's a far more drastic approach than renewal pruning. It involves cutting back the entire top of the plant to within a few inches of ground level. Done in the early spring (before growth starts) the shrub comes back from the roots, giving it a more compact shape and maximum potential for blooms. As new growth continues to emerge over the next few seasons, it should be thinned to create only a few sturdy stems, or until the plant takes on the desired form.

This technique is usually done when a shrubs start to look gangly (every 3-5 years). It works very well on multi-stemmed, twiggy-type shrubs, or shrubs that have been neglected for a few years.

Shrubs and flowering shrubs that can withstand being completely cut back to the ground (rejuvenation pruned).

Pruning Tools

Stems smaller than 1/4 inch in diameter can be pruned using a hand shears. Use a good, sharp pair of long-handled loppers on stems up to 1 inch in diameter. If you cut each stem 12-24 inches above the ground and remove it, you'll give yourself more room to lop off the remaining bit of stem at ground level. For stems larger than 1 inch in diameter, use a pruning saw for a clean cut.

Other things to keep in mind:

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 231 Feedbacks
November 13, 20091 found this helpful

Great tips. Just be careful to prune at the right time. We lost some buds on one bush because they had already formed for the next year when we pruned.

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