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Pruning 101

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December 14, 2020 by Hope Gardens

This is a hard and fast lesson so strap in! Have a pair of sharp shears. I like Fiskars products and their bypass pruner is expensive but worth it.

Your cuttings can be composted so get your bucket and find a good place to dump some clippings. If you don’t have a compost bin, just make a pile in your yard and cover with a tarp, or use a trash can or plastic bin or even a trash bag with holes punched in it.

I also prep some soil with compost and fertilizer in it or even some mulch or wood chips or composted leaves to add around my plants after I prune them.

Then head out. Make a circle around your property or head to the most neglected plants first. This may take a couple days. It’s a big project but pays big dividends.

And after your clean-up, you can reward yourself by sprinkling your poppy seeds around!

Plants listed below under hard pruning need a strong forceful brave cutting back, meaning every branch is cut back from a foot to a few inches from the ground – depending on your comfort level and the look you are going for and THE PLANT. I like to cut back to where I can see some shoots or leaves growing at the base of the stem. Cut at an angle and try to keep your cuts neat. This is where sharp shears come in handy.

This hard pruning is only applicable to ESTABLISHED PLANTS. These are mature plants that have been planted for at least a year in your yard.

In general, you prune branches that are dead or diseased, branches that are suckers, branches that cross other branches and branches that are heading in the wrong direction such as back against the center of the plant. Each plant has their own distinctive needs and requirements. This is a general recommendation to simplify and educate. Please feel free to take your education further! Nothing better than experience. And it’s ok to make mistakes. Really. It is.

Again: these lists don’t take into account every plant but some of the most common. Do your own research or hit us up with a question and we can learn together.

PLANTS TO HARD PRUNE AND COMPOST THE CLIPPINGS

Sages & Salvias: Native Butterfly Sages, Salvia Greggi, Jerusalem Sage, Waverly Sage, Mexican Sage, Russian Sage, and on and on

Peppers

Milkweed

Guara

Butterfly Bush

Verbena

Lantana

Mallow

Grasses

Manzanita

Toyon

Ceanothus

Perennial Herbs: Basils, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Balm, Pineapple Sage, Mint, etc.

Grevillea

Westringia

Thryptomene

Vitex

Rockrose

Firecracker Plant

Leucadendron

Euphorbia

Lion’s Tail

Ferns

Texas Ranger

Cassia

PLANTS TO HARD PRUNE BUT THROW AWAY THE CLIPPINGS

Roses

Invasive Plants

Diseased Plants

PLANTS NOT TO PRUNE. – These plants can be shaped for size and beauty but don’t NEED the hard cut-back we are talking about here.

Rosemary

Lavender

Cape Plumbago

Wax Flower (Chamelaucium x Verticordia)

Vines

Penstemon

Pittosporum

Hop Seed Bush or other hedge plants

Cordyline

Flax

Succulents that are leggy can be cut back and their clippings replanted. Some really benefit from this, like calandrina (rock purslane).

PLANTS TO DIG UP, THIN/DIVIDE AND REPLANT OR GIVE AWAY

Kangaroo Paw

Lillies

Yarrow

Aloe

Bulbine

Agapanthus

Yucca

Agave

PLANTS TO LIGHTLY PRUNE

Blueberry bushes

Beware pruning Firesticks and other succulents without gloves as their white sap can be very toxic.