Q. I'd like to trim my hawthorns because they are too tall. If I do that now in October, will I be removing the blooms that emerge in the spring?
A. General rule of thumb is if a plant blooms in early spring (January, February, March and even April) then its flower buds developed during the previous late summer and fall months. Pruning with a hedge shears, or cutting off all the new growth with a hand shears, removes flower buds as well as the spring flower show. Think photinia and pyracantha.
|Photinia showing its red leaves and flowers in the spring|
The key to whether you get a spring flower show is really more about HOW the pruning is done. Trees or shrubs that bloom in the early spring, if pruned correctly during the winter, will still provide a flower show.
|Pyracantha blooms in the spring|
|If pyracantha is pruned correctly we will get these red berries for fall and winter color.|
Pruning with a hedge shears, unless the plant is part of a hedge, is never the right way to prune. When pruning shrubs, choose between two different techniques: renewal pruning or rejuvenation pruning.
Renewal pruning is what is done to Lantana. It is cut to the ground, leaving one or 2 inches sticking above the soil to provide for new growth. This type of pruning is done to overgrown, woody oleanders and many other overgrown shrubs.
|Lantana is pruned to the ground every year, renewal pruning, because it will die back in the winter in cold climates|
Rejuvenation pruning is selectively cutting 2 to 4 of the older stems, close to the ground, every 3 to 4 years. This is done to plants that don’t grow back as quickly as Lantana or oleander.
|Look at the base of the shrub. Several older stems were cut to the ground leaving others. This is rejuvenation pruning.|
Prune hawthorns now and you will not interfere with the spring floral display if you use rejuvenation pruning. Pick 3 to 4 of your tallest stems and prune them back to within a few inches of the ground.