2018-06-13 / Columns

Shrub Care

Garden Scene
with Peggy Bolton

The early rains have helped boost an extraordinary amount of growth on some spring flowering shrubs. This is the time to finish up pruning many of these. Pruning not only promotes better blooming next season, it also helps shape and keep shrubbery under control.

The rule of thumb when pruning most shrubs is to perform the task after it finishes blooming. Now is when spent blooms on lilacs and rhododendrons should be removed. Remember, both these shrubs may be cut back just above a leaf node or where there is a branching “y.” Radical pruning will not hurt either of these shrubs. Remove any old or diseased wood, and any suckers at the base.

If your burning bush is out of control it also may be cut way back. Done in the early spring, while it is still dormant will not interrupt the fall cycle of the leaves turning bright red. Although it will not hurt to prune it now, it may not get all its fall color.

One should not be afraid to prune. It not only helps rejuvenate shrubs, it will help to bring them under control. Keeping planting a desired size will promote their beauty for years. If using chips make sure to hot push them up to the trunk or crown of trees or shrubs. This will promote disease and the appearance of borers, which will drill into trunks and eventually kill the plant. Keep chips back six to 12 inches from the trunk, leaving bare ground.

Send specific questions to: Country Grown Perennials LLC, Peggy Bolton, 4801, Pine Brook Road, Walton, NY 13856. Enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope for a personal reply. Visit us online at

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