|Thursday Techniques: Pruning to Maximize Flower Blooms|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Thursday, 19 August 2010|
The eternal question for many gardeners is how to prune to get the best flower show in the garden. Rest assured, pruning is not a bad thing and it won't hurt the plant. Rabbit and deer browse on vegetation all the time, it's the most natural form of pruning there is. The worst that happens in a pruning job gone bad is that you cut off all of the flower buds and end up with no flowers at all, that or too much vegetative growth.
Maximize flower blooms on perennials by pruning (deadheading) flowers that are past their prime before they set seed. After the flowers have bloomed, the plant puts its energy into producing seeds. Preventing seed production ensures that plants put their energy into producing more flowers.
When it comes to flowering shrubs and trees there are some general rules. Spring flowering shrubs usually flower on last year's growth or "old wood". Some varieties of hydrangeas, which bloom later in the summer, also flower on old wood. These shrubs should be pruned immediately after flowering, before the buds form. Pruning after the buds have formed results in no flowers the following year. Other shrubs and trees flower on the current year's growth and can be pruned right after they bloom or while dormant before any new growth appears.
Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning: What, When, Where, and How to Prune for a More Beautiful Garden
The Pruner's Bible: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pruning Every Plant in Your Garden