In this edition of Nursery News, Tom shows how to create lasting color by using the ‘Sunshine’ Ligustrum, a Southern Living Plant, with several different smaller plants, all low maintenance.
Tom discusses the striking colors Ebony Fire and Ebony & Ivory Crapemyrtles in this edition of T-Bone’s News. Both varieties are available in at T-Bone’s Nursery. Just Diggin’ Life!
Rules of Thumb for Pruning Flowering Shrubs
Learn the general rules of thumb for pruning flowering shrubs.
Pruning is a source of confusion and worry to many gardeners. How and when to prune are two of the most common questions asked of gardening experts. Luckily a few simple guidelines provide good advice for growing most types of flowering shrubs.Learn the general rules of thumb for pruning flowering shrubs.
Rule of Thumb Number One: Don’t Prune. Many gardeners labor under the belief that they must prune regularly to keep their shrubs in good condition. Not true. Most shrubs need only one significant pruning session a year and many don’t even need that. Pruning common shrubs like lilacs, forsythia and burning bush into tight mounds is not only unnecessary but isn’t that great for the plants, either. Many flowering shrubs will look their best when allowed to grow in their natural form or habit. Frequent shearing encourages lots of surface branching, possibly resulting in an unhealthy structure and reduced flowering. If you really want a tightly sheared look in your garden, choose a plant that is suited to it, such as boxwood.
Rule of Thumb Number Two: Prune Spring Flowering Shrubs After Flowering.
Plants that bloom in early spring usually produce their flower buds the year before. The buds over-winter on the previous year’s growth and open in spring. If you prune these spring bloomers in fall or winter you’ll remove the flower buds and won’t have flowers that year. The plants will be okay, but you’ll miss a year of blooms. Most of these plants don’t need heavy pruning every year, just some selective thinning of branches to give them a nice shape.
Rule of Thumb Number Three: Prune Summer Flowering Shrubs In Late Winter or Early Spring.
Many summer flowering shrubs bloom on the current year’s growth. Pruning them back in later winter encourages them to produce lots of new growth that summer and will result in more flowers. Don’t be afraid to cut fast growing plants, such as buddleia or caryopteris, down to as little as 10-12” tall. The exception to this rule is Hydrangeas. See Rule Number Four for more on that.
Rule of Thumb Number Four: Hydrangeas. Hydrangeas alone account for at least half the pruning questions in gardening advice forums. Some bloom on ‘old wood’ (see Rule Number Two) while others bloom on ‘new wood’ (Rule Number Three.) You’ll need to identify what kind of hydrangea you have and follow the appropriate rule. Hydrangea macrophylla, the ones with big blue or pink flowers, and Hydrangea quercifolia, oakleaf hydrangeas, both bloom on old wood. The little pruning they need should be done immediately after flowering. Hydrangea paniculata, which have white, conical flowers, and Hydrangea arborescens, such as ‘Annabelle’, bloom on new wood. They’ll produce better flowers if cut back in late winter. For more in-depth information on pruning the different types of Hydrangea, click here.
Rule of Thumb Number Five: It’s OK to Trim Anytime. Really.
Gardeners are often confronted with stray shoots and branches in late summer and worry about removing them. Go ahead and cut them back. The plant won’t be damaged by removing a branch or two.
In summary, relax. Your landscape plants don’t need as much pruning as you may think. If you’d rather go to the beach than shear back your landscape plants, go right ahead. The only potentially tricky part of pruning is determining when to trim a particular plant. For a quick review, prune summer bloomers in late winter and spring bloomers right after flowering – just check the hydrangea rule before you trim them. Stray or broken branches can be trimmed back any time. If you do make a mistake, plants are very forgiving. You may miss a season of flowers but the plant will recover for the next year.
10 Essential Spring Gardening Tasks
Spring is the most active time to be in the garden. Using all the pent-up energy we’ve accrued over winter, let’s head outdoors to clean out and prepare our garden beds, repair hardscaping, do a little pruning and moving, and start the growing season off right. Here are ten things you can do to launch the spring season successfully.
1. Time for a spring inspection.
On one of the first warm days of spring, put on your inspector’s hat and head out to the garden with a notepad. It’s time to see what happened in the garden while you were indoors all winter. Take note of:
Cold, ice or snow damage on plants
Beds that will need to be cleaned out
Hardscaping elements—walls, fences, benches, sheds, trellises—that have shifted, bowed or rotted
Evidence of new animal burrows from skunks, chipmunks, moles and voles, groundhogs or rabbits. Also, note any deer or rodent damage on woody plants.
2. Address hardscaping issues first.
In early spring before the ground is ready to be worked, focus your energy on hardscaping. This is the time to repair damaged retaining walls, level out your stepping stones, clean out your gutters, and fix fences, benches, decks, sheds, trellises, window boxes and raised beds. These tasks are easier to accomplish while your plants are still resting safely dormant.
Early spring is also a good time to plan for and build new raised gardens, widen existing ones, and tidy up your beds’ edging. When temperatures allow, add a fresh coat of paint, stain or sealant to any hardscaping elements made of wood.
3. Do a thorough spring cleanup.
Ideally just before your spring bulbs start to pop up, clean the plant debris out of your garden beds. This includes fallen branches, matted down leaves, last year’s perennial foliage, ornamental grasses and perennial hibiscus, and any annuals you didn’t remove last fall. Maintaining good hygiene in your garden beds will help to keep pests and diseases at bay.
Now is also a good time to clean out debris from your pond or water feature. While you’re at it, scrub and sterilize your bird bath and containers before setting them back out into the garden. A 1 part bleach/5 parts water solution should take care of any lingering diseases or insect eggs in your containers.
4. Test your garden soil.
Experts recommend testing your garden soil every 3-5 years to see what nutrients or organic materials it needs and which it has too much of. You might learn, for example, that your soil is very high in phosphorous, so you would avoid adding fertilizers that contain a lot of it. Or you might find out your soil is naturally alkaline, and need to add aluminum sulfate around your evergreens and acid-loving shrubs like hydrangeas. Detailed instructions on how to collect and submit your soil sample is available on your state’s Extension Service website.
5. Feed your soil.
Once you know what your garden soil needs based on your test results, talk with someone at your local garden center about which specific products to use, always following package instructions for best results.
A good general practice is to topdress the soil with an inch or two of compost, humus and/or manure in early spring just before or as your bulbs are starting to emerge. That’s also a good time to sprinkle an organic slow release plant food like Espoma’s Plant-tone or Rose-tone around your perennials and shrubs. Earthworms and other garden creatures will do the job of working these organic materials down into the soil for you.
6. Get out a sharp pair of pruners.
Spring is a good time to prune some kinds of woody shrubs and trees. We’ve created a detailed guide for you to follow here: Pruning Demystified. Here are a few highlights:
Start by pruning out anything that has been broken or damaged by winter ice, snow and cold. Remove dead wood, too.
Follow the general rule that flowering shrubs which bloom on new wood (this year’s growth) can be trimmed in spring. This includes summer flowering shrubs like butterfly bush, smooth hydrangea (H. arborescens), panicle hydrangea (H. paniculata), potentilla, rose of Sharon, and roses. Their flower buds will be set on the new flush of growth that appears after you prune it.
Spring is also a good time to shear back evergreens like boxwood and arborvitae once their initial flush of new growth has finished emerging.
DO NOT prune early flowering shrubs and those that bloom on old wood (last year’s stems) like azalea, forsythia, lilac, quince, ninebark and weigela in spring. If you do, you’ll risk cutting off this year’s flower buds. You might not be able to see them, but they are there, so resist the urge to prune.
7. Divide perennials and transplant shrubs.
In early spring when they are just beginning to pop up, divide and transplant any perennials that have outgrown their space or grown large enough to split, if desired. In most cases, it’s best to divide and move perennials in the opposite season of when they bloom. That means moving summer and fall blooming perennials in spring, and spring blooming perennials in fall. This avoids disrupting their bloom cycle.
Evergreen shrubs can be moved in early spring before their new growth appears or in early fall to give them enough time to re-establish their roots before winter. Deciduous shrubs can be moved almost anytime they are not in bloom and the weather is mild, but generally spring and fall are the preferred seasons for transplanting. If you move them while they are dormant, there will be less stress on the plants and they will be more likely to spring back into action quickly.
8. Put out any necessary supports like trellises and stakes.
If you’ve brought a trellis into the garage or shed for winter, early spring is a good time to bring it back out into the garden. Make sure it’s sturdy and apply a fresh coat of paint if needed before using it again. If you grow peonies, delphiniums, or any other perennials that require support, set them out now or get them ready to go. Trying to wrangle tender peony stems into a peony ring is tough work once their leaves have unfurled.
9. Plant your spring containers and borders.
Though most annual flowers need the soil to warm up a bit before planting, some cool weather loving plants like pansies, nemesia, and osteospermum daisies won’t mind if you plant them in the garden early. Fill your spring containers with sweet alyssum, lobelia and Supertunia petunias, too. You’ll find six solutions for cool weather plantings in this article. For most other annuals, it’s a good idea to wait until your area’s last frost date to plant. Your local Extension Service website lists that date on their website.
The tips above were provided by our plant partner Proven Winners
Call T-Bone’s anytime to discuss more specifics for your yard and our local area at 4789680002. We are always ready to help!
It appears spring is upon us quite early, and as the nursery traffic is picking up daily, we want to remind you that a late freeze is looming. There are many actions to take while waiting out the last of our crazy Georgia winter!
Begin by preparing your lawn by killing off those winter weeds. We have what you need in stock, and when you come in we will instruct you how to use for the best results.
Now IS the time to plant, especially trees and shrubs, so come in to the nursery NOW to grab those items that may sell out sooner like fruit trees, which are selling FAST! And, get more undivided advice from our knowledgeable team members on your landscaping projects before the spring rush truly starts.
Have a bit of patience on those colorful spring annuals you are craving to get in those containers, but have a plan ready. Come check out our beautiful pottery in the meantime at the nursery or view some of the selection HERE. We’ll let you know when the color arrives!
We are ready for spring and DIGGIN’ LIFE!