February 2013—Time to Clean and Prune

Now is the time to get your pruners, loppers and saws cleaned and honed for late winter pruning season. Late February and early March are ideal times to prune many trees and shrubs for the year. Deciduous trees will not have leaves on branches and it’s easier to see which ones are crossing, dead and do not have buds on them, or ones that are broken or damaged.

Those branches that are damaged need to be pruned as soon as possible since the wounds invite disease and insects. Lifeless branches and twigs go next as they tend to divert nutrients and energy from the live portions of the tree. Finally, any crossing or touching branches need to be pruned out so one does not interfere with the other’s growth. For more information on pruning trees and shrubs, download the publication "All About Pruning," c550 , or "Pruning Shrubs," MF2998, from the Kansas State University website: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/.

Shrubs that should not be pruned now are: forsythia, fothergilla, lilac, magnolia, mock orange, quince, or any other tree or woody perennial that blooms in the spring. Wait until they flower to prune or you could lose the forthcoming floral display.

The Parsons Arboretum has numerous trees and shrubs with large buds on them, just waiting to make their debut. There are several pussy willow trees ready to bloom soon as well as a flowering dogwood that will delight your visual senses when it is ready. Kenny Ervin, Pat McReynolds, Chuck Marquardt and I have been cutting back shrubs such as crape myrtle, butterfly bush, roses, ninebark and caryopteris to prepare for their upcoming spring and summer rejuvenation.

While performing garden clean up chores recently, I’ve noticed many things are budding out from the extraordinarily mild weather. Along with the daffodils, crocuses and tulips, sedums are coming back and looking splendid. I was visiting a friend and her flowering quince had a bloom on it. I have several candytuft (Iberis) shrubs, an evergreen groundcover, that are budding out and will bear clusters of small white flowers in a few weeks. Decorative grasses are greening up and the winter blades need to be cut down now to make room for new growth.

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