REFRAIN YOURSELF FROM THE URGE TO PRUNE NOW
Every day, I have customers ask about pruning in the fall. So, this current surge in asking about pruning has prompted me to write this blog. The bottom line is this: we do not want to prune now. I know the urge is there. Fall is a favorite time for clean-up in our landscape beds. We are out taking advantage of these cooler temperatures to pull out all our tired and spent summer annuals. Tree leaves are now falling and we are raking them up from our lawns and beds. So, it only makes sense that we want pruners in hand to do some trimming.
When “talking the talk” with customers on pruning, I have the VIRGINIA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SHRUB PRUNING CALENDAR. Looking at this very informative handout, you will see that nothing should be pruned in October.
Here are a few reasons why NOT to prune in October:
- Each plant has different needs and growing habits. Many plants, such as azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, etc., have already formed their flower buds for color next spring. Pruning in the fall will be cutting off these flower buds.
- Fall pruning can reduce winter hardiness. Pruning in October could signal the plant to produce new growth. The new growth will not have enough time to “harden” off before our first killing frost.
- In the fall, plants devote their energy underground with their root system to push out new growth in the spring.
- Some insects may use the fresh, cut openings for a place to live for the winter.
- We have no idea as to how harsh our upcoming winter may be. Winter could cause some dieback on our plants. It would be easier to prune in the late winter/early spring when evidence of dieback becomes clear.
Unfortunately, I have had customers come into the garden center asking about proper pruning times but have already pruned. Pruning in the fall will not suddenly kill all your plants. But, you may not be satisfied with your pruning efforts. So, put those pruners away and subdue the urge to prune right now.
FALL IS FOR PLANTING A LITTLE HAPPINESS / DON’T CUT OFF THIS HAPPINESS WITH PRUNING!!!