Prune spring flowering shrubs. As I write this post on April 26th it is snowing. Crazy weather. And it is supposed to be 80 when I publish it on May 1st. Welcome to the high desert! Because we have had such a long warm spring many spring flowering shrubs like Lilacs (Syringa), Forsythia, Red-twigged Dogwood (Cornus), Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles) and Spiraea bloomed long ago and are ready to be pruned. Pruning now will encourage growth and since most shrubs bloom on new wood you will have more flowers next spring. Start by removing the 3 D's. Anything that is dead, diseased or damaged. Next prune out all crossing or rubbing branches and anything that is heading toward the center. Lilacs, Dogwoods and Forsythia should then have 1/3 of their oldest woodiest growth taken all the way to the ground. Spiraeas that bloom in the spring such as 'Snowmound' should be pruned by removing the branches that flowered this year. Flowering Quince blooms on old wood, so prune it to shape down to an outward facing bud on each branch. Although it is not a shrub, Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) can also be pruned after flowering. I sweep off the spent flowers with a broom and then cut the foliage back by 1/3 to 1/2. These are the most popular spring flowering shrubs in our area but these rules can be applied to almost any shrub that flowers in the spring.
PLANT OF THE MONTH:
Echinacea species. The Coneflower is a tried and true perennial that will give you color all summer long, attract butterflies and other beneficial insects and provide some winter interest with their attractive seedheads. There are several cultivars now in a variety of colors. 'Purple' is the most common with flowers ranging from pink to mauve, 'White Swan' is a pure white as its name implies, 'Magnus' has reddish-purple blooms and these three will reach 2-4 feet depending upon conditions. 'Pow Wow Wildberry' was bred to have darker red-purple flowers and a more compact habit at 16-24 inches. Our new favorite, growing to 2 feet, is 'Cheyenne Spirit' which is a mix of scarlet, gold, pink, orange, cream and red. All of these Coneflowers will grow to 18 inches wide, can take full sun or part shade and fit well in a perennial bed or xeriscape.
|Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit'|
|Echinacea 'Pow Wow Wildberry'|