Prune back so growth springs forward

by | Feb 15, 2021 | Landscape Services

To many, spring is a symbol of hope and renewal. Warmth and sunlight awaken nature and the hue of the landscape trans-forms from dull to vibrant as plants become flush with new leaves and flowers. Winter’s harshness gives way to new aromas, sounds and activities.

Sometimes, nature needs a little help, so the professionally trained horticulturalists at Mainscape step in. During our regular pruning cycle, we remove any dead twigs or sections damaged by frost. Shrubs looking “leggy” with leaves concentrated at the top and perimeter of the plant, too large for the space they occupy, or abundant with unsightly dead wood need a more aggressive approach to stimulate fresh new growth. This process is called rejuvenation pruning, or hard cutbacks, and is underway or will soon be.

Rejuvenation pruning reduces plant size by 30 to 50 percent, exposing latent buds along the lower portion of stems to sun-light so they will grow new shoots and leaves, becoming healthier, fuller and more attractive. The amount of reduction will depend on plant species, health and desired height.

What should you expect after rejuvenation pruning?

To look their best, shrubs require an “ugly stage.” Most plants have very few leaves after rejuvenation pruning and appear bare for a few weeks. Dramatically removing leaves may be alarming at first, but soon tiny new leaves form all along the remaining stems. Removing some flowers during rejuvenation pruning may be unavoidable. Plants producing flower buds on new growth will produce even more on all the new growth. Such plants include Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Ixora, Oleander, Plumbago, Crepe Myrtle, Roses, Allamanda, Thryallis, Duranta and Firebush. The rejuvenation process can add years to the life of plants needing it. Aging or weak shrubs may not recover from severe pruning. Failure to bounce back usually indicates they would not have survived much longer anyway.

When can rejuvenation pruning be done?

Rejuvenation pruning can begin in early spring and continue throughout the summer. Mainscape typically completes hard cutbacks by the onset of summer so homeowners can enjoy their rejuvenated shrubs once they have filled out for the better part of the growing season. We only perform selective rejuvenation pruning on plants in need of it. All others are trimmed to look neat and maintain their shape.