Lawn & Garden
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Colder temperatures in the South means that it is prime time to begin planting and pruning certain ornamental plants. These plants, grown primarily for their aesthetic value, benefit greatly from selective cutting. This type of pruning keeps the plants in shape and growing successfully. Also known as trimming, pruning is a necessary strategy for gardeners and landscapers alike.
Different times of year are optimal for planting different ornamentals. Paying attention to which plants grow best in colder months is crucial. Note that these do not include semi-hardy and marginal plants that benefit from spring planting.
“Know the plants you are working with to avoid mistakes,” said Hayes Jackson, an Alabama Extension home grounds, gardens and home pests urban regional agent.
The ideal soil for most plants is rich, well-drained garden loam. When planting, it is important to keep in mind not to dig the hole too deep. Taper the planting hole with a wider opening and a large enough bottom to hold the entire root system. Adding a ring of soil around the edge of the plant can help hold moisture when the area is filling with water.
“Planting the right plant in the right place is crucial to avoid unnecessary pruning or maintenance issues,” Jackson said.
According to Jackson, pruning ornamentals creates better plant shape, discourages diseases and increases fruiting and flowering. During the pruning process, cutting or trimming overgrown stems or branches is key for optimal plant growth. The time of year to prune is specific to each plant, so researching the proper pruning time for each plant is crucial.
“Some plants need to be pruned after flowering to avoid removing flower buds, such as hydrangeas and azaleas,” Jackson said.
Gardeners and landscapers alike often use a variety of tools for pruning, including hedge shears, floral scissors, hand pruners and pruning saws.
“A proper pruning cut utilizes proper pruning methods and proper tools,” Jackson said. “Proper methods and tools are important because any new growth stimulated by the pruning will develop close to where the cut is made.”
More information is available in the Alabama Extension content piece Pruning Ornamental Trees. For further information on planting and pruning ornamental plants, visit the Lawn and Garden section of the Alabama Extension website www.aces.edu. People can also contact the home grounds, gardens and home pests regional agent serving their area.