It’s a beautiful morning, sun shinning, birds chirping, and breezes swaying the trees, life is good.
What a great day to talk about gardening!
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Today’s Master Gardening Series: Herbaceous Pruning 101
What Does Herbaceous Mean?
Any plant who’s leaves and stems, at the end of your growing season, die down to the soil level. Plants that doesn’t have any woody (more than 1 year old wood) stems above ground. Herbaceous plants may be annuals, biennials or perennials.
To become the best gardener we can it’s important to understand the why’s and how’s of gardening. To ensure a beautiful garden we must use pruning techniques..
We often relate pruning in terms of woody’s (i.e. shrubs, trees and evergreens). When we deadhead spent flowers, pinch back stems or buds and cut back leggy plants….we are pruning!
Pruning has also been referred to “grooming, shearing, or snipping/shaping , deadheading, pinching, cutting back, deadleafing”. Whatever term you use…you are pruning
Why Do We Prune?
1) Extends bloom period or encourages repeat blooms: this is the most important reason to prune herbaceous plants (perennials). Most perennials only flower for 3 weeks, some even shorter.
Deadheading is the removal of a spent (flower bud on decline) flower or faded flowers.Deadheading is an odd term for a technique that gives new life to your garden through prolonged or repeat blooms (certain species).
Example of pinching back
2) Encourages Lush New Growth: when we cut our plants back because growth has become old and tattered looking can produce new lush growth, it refreshes the plant.
A good thing to note, foliage, texture and color creates as much beauty to our garden as flowers blooms.
3) Extends the Life of Plants by Regenerating: Pruning provides much more than cosmetic, it can increase the vigor and life of our plants. It improves health by making them more resistant to disease and harsh weather conditions.
4) Stagger Plant Heights and Bloom Time: Perennials growing in large groups (i.e phlox) can be pruned to staggering (different) heights. Prune the front of plant lower than the middle and back of plant. The different heights lengthens bloom time.
5) Controls Plant Height: By reducing the plants height control reduces staking, and creates more compact plants.
6) Increases Flower Size/Numbers: Pinching a plant causes it to produce more, but smaller, flowers. I don’t know about you but I’d rather have more flowers!
7) Prevents and Control Pests: Thinning out plants prone to mildew (i.e. Hollyhocks, phlox) increases air circulation and decreases diseases. Removing infected foliage helps control the spread and further pest invasion.
8) Enhances Overall Appearance of Our Plants: Cutting back a plant before it flowers creates a more compact look and shape’s the plant. Removing unsightly flowers also helps our gardens look prettier.
Pruning Tools To Use!
Hedge shears, by-pass pruners, anvil pruners, and garden scissors
1) Hedge shears can be used for cutting back and “shearing” back herbaceous plants before and after flowering;
2) By-pass pruner is the most commonly used pruner and used for deadheading and cutting back.
3) Anvil pruners should be avoided…they can crush stems thereby damaging our plants;
4) Scissors (sharp pruning scissors (aka. bonsai/grape scissors) are very helpful and often essential deadheading small delicate flowerheads.
The next series post will be a tutorial on the different pruning techniques and which plants to use them on.
I hope you are enjoying and learning from this series….it would make me happy to know you are on your way to being a Master yourself. Your garden children will thank you!