SEATTLE — Gardening expert Ciscoe Morris shares the latest plant tips and tricks to get your garden in its best shape.
It's time to do spring trimming.
It might still feel like winter, but before we know it spring will be here. Right now in early March just as new growth starts, is a key time to prune many kinds of shrubs to renew their foliage, enhance the summer flower displays and to keep them a manageable size and looking their best. A few summer blooming shrubs that are best pruned in early March are Japanese Spiraea (Spiraea japonica) Hebe, heavenly bamboo (Nandina), Cape Fucshia (Phygelius) and Mexican mock orange (Choisya). Many varieties of these drought tolerant shrubs have colorful foliage and attractive blooms, making them great choices for the mixed border. The main problem is that they often grow larger than expected and end up covering up or shading out neighboring plants. Normally all that's needed to keep them a manageable size is to cut the stems back by 2/3 when spring growth begins. If, however, the foliage was burned by winter cold, or the plant just is looking ratty, cut the woody stems within a couple of inches of the ground. These are tough shrubs that generally will grow back, even if frozen to the roots, so if hard pruning is necessary, cut it back within a couple of inches from the ground. It'll take a while, but your shrub will grow back full and beautiful, and be a manageable size for at least another couple of years. Do the cutting back soon so that new growth has plenty of time to harden off before next winter.