PbDToDo in March

Cabin Fever Brings Us Out

Despite the bitter cold and soggy snow that blanketed Washington DC this winter, March has arrived.  We know spring is coming because if you look closely enough, you will see the tender leaf tips of bulbs, especially daffodils, just emerging. Right now, we are working quickly in gardens to take advantage of the great opportunity to prune in the last moments of winter.  Many plants and trees should or MUST be pruned at this time of year while the temperatures are consistently below 50 degrees ferinheight.  And besides, who can sit inside any longer?

 

What to prune now

Basically, if a woody plant or tree will bloom from stems that grow this year, then winter is the time to prune them.  Mostly, these are plants that will bloom in summer and fall.  Doing so now is much easier on the plant. Since they are not putting energy into growing, cuts heal more quickly and there is much less risk of spreading any disease.  On the other hand, if  blooms grow from older stems, stems that grew last year or earlier, then we need to wait till after they bloom to prune them.  Many of these are spring bloomers.

 

To keep it simple, here is a short list to focus on:

Boxwood

Roses

Fruit Trees

Crape Myrtles

Hydrangea paniculata (PeeGees) and arboresescens (Annabelles)

Care should be taken with Hydrangeas to be sure they are not Oakleaf or Hydrangea macrphylla.  They bloom on old wood and if you prune them now, you will remove flowerbuds.  These can wait till later in the season.

 

Goodbye Winterburn!

One more easy task to do now is to cut back liriope and other ornamental grasses.  By now, they can look so shabby it’s difficult to bare.  Cutting them back gives new shoots an opportunity to absorb light and relieves the plants from trying to sustain the old blades at the same time they need to feed new ones.  It won’t take long before the new growth will cover the stubble, which in any case is still better to look at than the tired, brown salt suffering stems.

It’s always ok to prune off damaged or week branches.  It’s not always easy to see if a branch that’s dormant is still vital, but looking very closely can reveal life so take a minute to inspect.  Finding the first signs of life in the garden is a genuine thrill.

 

About adele

Adele Medina O'Dowd is a principal of Pruning by Design and willowlandscapedesign.net. She has been designing and working in gardens professionally since 2007 and before that as a web site and interactive designer for museums. She received a certificate in landscape design in 2009 from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1988 from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2009, Adele was a featured speaker at the Chesapeake Conservation Landscape Council’s annual conference.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *