Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES -

Some­times a shrub is used for the pur­poses of screen­ing or di­vi­sion be­tween two prop­er­ties. Home­own­ers can be hor­ri­fied, says Vinet, at the thought of los­ing a pri­vacy screen, no mat­ter how tem­po­rary, when a hedge must be cut back. “It’s all about what you can stand,” says Vinet. “If the shrub is 80 per cent dead wood, you prob­a­bly can’t stand that ei­ther, so bite the bul­let!” Vinet says that once shrubs reach a cer­tain age a sig­nif­i­cant amount of en­ergy can be ex­pended on main­tain­ing dead­wood — en­ergy that should be di­rected to main­tain­ing healthy growth. Re­newal prun­ing done on a yearly ba­sis is al­ways eas­ier than con­tem­plat­ing dras­tic size re­duc­tion al­though there are also ways to re­duce size with­out do­ing any­thing dras­tic. Below are some rec­om­men­da­tions for prun­ing and main­tain­ing a nat­u­ral yet man­age­able form for some of the most com­mon shrubs. Bar­berry (Ber­beris) Un­de­terred by bar­berry’s sharp thorns, hun­gry rab­bits some­times do the prun­ing for us. Her­bi­vores, rab­bits are equipped with large front teeth called in­cisors that help them to grind down woody stems. Bar­ber­ries re­spond well, for­tu­nately, to se­vere prun­ing. So in this case don’t be too wor­ried about how far down to cut. Clean up any chewed tips. Bro­ken and dead branches should be re­moved as soon as pos­si­ble and this, says Seniw and Vinet, should be done at any time of year on all shrubs. Hy­drangea (Hy­drangea) Vinet says hy­drangeas, par­tic­u­larly the pan­ic­u­lata va­ri­eties, usu­ally pose no dif­fi­culty in prun­ing. Not sure which type you have? If the flower is cone or pan­i­cle-shaped, you can be cer­tain it is a pan­ic­u­lata. Ex­am­ples in­clude Lime­light, Lit­tle Lamb, Pinky Winky, and Quick Fire. Wait for the third year be­fore shap­ing newly in­stalled hy­drangea shrubs other than re­mov­ing dried spent blooms and any dead branches. Once the plant is ma­ture, it can be cut back by one-third or one-half in the early spring be­fore the leaves open with­out af­fect­ing bloom pro­duc­tion. If, at some point, bloom pro­duc­tion slows or the shrub’s form needs to be im­proved, pan­ic­u­lata hy­drangeas can be cut down al­most to the ground in the early spring. The new healthy growth re­sults in larger, more pro­lific blooms. Some of the re­peat bloom­ing hy­drangeas, such as the End­less Sum­mer se­ries, are macro­phylla type hy­drangeas. Th­ese have round mop­head flow­ers that bloom on old wood and new wood. This means that flower buds were set in the pre­vi­ous sea­son and un­timely spring prun­ing re­sults in the plant fail­ing to pro­duce sum­mer flow­ers. A light trim­ming and re­moval of blooms im­me­di­ately af­ter flow­er­ing is all that is needed. Hy­drangea ar­borescens va­ri­eties such as Annabelle, In­cred­iball, and In­vin­ci­belle, should be pruned back in late win­ter or early spring. This en­cour­ages new growth which will pro­duce sum­mer’s flow­ers. Li­lac (Syringa) All types of lilac are so lovely and del­i­cate at time of pur­chase. Over time some va­ri­eties grow into im­pos­ing, im­pen­e­tra­ble beasts. Sit­ing plants in a lo­ca­tion that ac­com­mo­dates its nat­u­ral growth re­sults in the health­i­est plant. Con­tin­u­ally shear­ing a lilac to re­duce its size stresses both the plant and the home­owner. Seniw re­minds home­own­ers that noth­ing in Mother Na­ture grows in a straight line. The buds of lilacs have al­ready started to swell so any prun­ing will re­move the chance of flow­ers. Seniw sug­gests thin­ning lilacs in early spring be­fore flow­er­ing or growth starts. Missed that op­por­tu­nity? Max­i­mize next sea­son’s blooms by prun­ing out any dead­wood or scrappy look­ing twigs or branches that have only one bud. Re­move flow­ers af­ter they have faded.


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