Summer Pruning

Emerald Snow loropetalum before pruning last week

Emerald Snow loropetalum after shaping last week

Every August I like to remove and shape many of my evergreen shrubs. In the images above I simply removed a good bit of new growth that made the shrub taller  than I wanted for the existing space. This is the purpose of summer pruning. Please do this with hand pruners rather than garden shears. Using hand pruners prevents a lot of cut leaves and allows you to hide as many cuts as possible by allowing the remaining branches and foliage to cover the cuts. I also make sure to keep the plant in the shape desired that is similar to the natural growth habit of the plant. I have pruned some of my hollies so the berries will be more showy this winter, pyracantha to show off the fall berries, and to take the long shoots out of the elaeagnus, etc. Now if your plants grow with dense foliage, and a cut will put a hole in the plant, do not prune now. Good examples of this type of plant are old English boxwood and dwarf yaupon. So while I do not recommend severe pruning this time of the year, a light summer shaping is okay.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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