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February To-Do List: Pruning

Bush (hydrangea) cutting or trimming with secateur in the garden

Bush (hydrangea) cutting or trimming with secateur in the garden

Georgia’s General Beauregard Lee predicted an early spring this Groundhog Day, and spring gardening draws closer day by day. The first step: pruning, which allows us to get rid of any diseased or dying plant parts in order for nutrients to travel more efficiently to parts that are alive. We also prune to shape plant size or increase the yield of flowers and fruits.

Here are a few schedules and tips for local plant-life, to get you started:

Hollies – Hollies are resistant to pruning and can recover from most downsizing throughout the year. However, it is safest to prune when the plant just comes out of dormancy: late winter or early spring. This also allows the new growth to be safe from freezing temperatures.

Crepe Myrtles – The ideal time to cut Crepe Myrtles is in mid – late February. At this time, the tree will be leafless, which makes the branches more visible. Focus on cutting branches that are dead, pointing inward, and branches that grow at an awkward angle.

Hardwoods – As a general rule of thumb, pruning from winter to early spring is the safest method because callus tissues forms quickly. Minor pruning of dead or damaged branches can be done year round.

Azaleas – Prune azaleas right after they bloom, preferably during spring or early summer. Cutting them too late will remove flower buds and they will not be able to bloom.
Azaleas are best left in their natural graceful form. If there are any shoots sticking out by an unusual amount, make the cut towards the center of the plant. Exposing the woody center promotes healthy new growth.

Hydrangeas – During late summer, the shrub will start to form the buds for next year’s flowers. Try to avoid cutting off those buds by pruning mid-summer, right after a blooming flower has started to fade.


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