My Plants (Location Identified)
- Berberis thunbergii – Barberry Side Yard next to rosebush)– late winter or early spring before new growth begins to grow. However, prune diseased or damaged branches any time of the year. Use a pair of pruning shears or hand garden clippers. Prune to shape or thin and to cut off the oldest and tallest branches. Cut off no more than one-third of a Berberis thunbergii. Choose some stems in the middle of the plant to increase air flow and off the top to reduce height. The bottom of the bush should remain wider than the top. Cut just above the bud or parent branch. Cut at an angle so the cut is parallel to the parent branch.
- Chaste Trees The best time to prune is late winter (feb, mar). Once you know when and how to prune chaste trees, you can keep them looking neat and blooming all summer. Left to their own devices, they grow 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 m.) tall and 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 m.) wide. The best time to prune a chaste tree is in late winter. You can cut off the entire tree at ground level and it will regrow at an astonishing pace. Also deadhead in spring and summer – just clip off the spent flowers before they have a chance to go to seed. In winter, remove weak, twiggy growth from the center of the plant to keep it looking tidy. This is also the time to prune to encourage branching. Make cuts all the way back to a side branch whenever possible. If you must shorten rather than remove a branch, cut just above a twig or bud. New growth will take off in the direction of the bud. Pruning chaste trees to remove the lower limbs that droop and hang close to the ground is optional, but if you remove these branches it will make lawn and garden maintenance much easier.
- Butterfly bush performs best when cut back hard in the late winter (feb, mar)or very early spring before new growth begins. I usually do this at the same time that I prune my roses, which in my Zone 7 garden is late February or early March. Prune your buddleia down to about 6-inches from the ground to maintain a compact form and for prolific bloom production. There are also a couple of other techniques you might want to try. Pinch back new growth a couple of times before the end of spring and as summer progresses, remove the spent flowers to promote more flowers in the fall.
- Lamium – Older plants can sometimes become leggy, meaning that the bottom of the plant is long and thin with more stem than leaf. You can cut these plants back to the ground, allowing the roots to shoot forth new, bushier foliage. Cut any dead and diseased foliage down to the ground, as well. Clip the new growth back to a leaf joint, if desired, to encourage branching and ensure fuller foliage. Control Size: Lamiums are usually divided in late fall or winter when they form dense mats, but you can thin the plants during spring or summer to control growth before it is safe to divide the perennials.
- Photinia: Prune in late winter (feb, mar) or early spring, as trimming at this time avoids winter damage to new growth. Prune off any dead or damaged stems on evergreen photinia. Use long-handled loppers to thin badly-placed branches and remove crowded shoots, opening the bush to better air circulation.
- Cherry Laurel – NOT PHOTINIA – Just do it! Laurels can be cut back as hard as you like from early spring through until late summer (late August). If after that time, then the best time to cut back hard in late winter. The new growth will soon start to shoot out as soon as the spring warmth begins.
- Abelia x grandiflora. For general maintenance, prune Abelia in late winter (feb, mar) or early spring. Abelia blossoms on new wood, so avoid pruning after spring growth begins.
- Pacific Madrone Young madronas tolerate light pruning, best done in midwinter*. Errant limbs can be gently redirected with foam-wrapped wire or cord tied to stakes. To protect the bark, slit a piece of old hose lengthwise and insert it between the tree and the cord.
- Rosemary – Trim off the tips of lanky shoots by at least one-half, cutting at a 45-degree angle, in early spring. Cut the entire plant back in late winter to early spring to renovate an older rosemary. Don’t trim past the lowest cluster of your rosemary’s needlelike foliage when pruning to rejuvenate a plant.
- Ceanothus – Mtn. Lilac (Carmel ceanothus) – remove dead material if needed, AND see entry under Summer.
- Cotoneaster looks best when allowed to take its natural arching form. Use a light hand when pruning because overzealous pruning will destroy its natural shape. The best time for pruning is in early spring or immediately after the plants have flowered.
- Euonymus fortunei ‘Ivory Jade Wintercreeper’ and Emerald n Gold – Broadleaf evergreens need little pruning, but when it is done, should only be done in early spring before any new growth begins. Prune branch tips back to increase density and direct the plants growth. Touch up can be done in summer, if needed, until mid July. Young shrubs respond very well to fertilizing.
- Chinese Pistache The best time to prune is in early spring after the last hard frost but before you see new growth – you’ll still get fall color and those bright berries beloved by wildlife
- Chitalpa does not require pruning but should you want to prune, trim or shape the tree, cut no more than a third of last year’s branches, in early spring as it flowers on current year’s wood. It grows medium slow to medium fast.
- Scented Geranium Pelargonium Mint Pruning: Occasional pinching and pruning will make your scented geranium plants more full and bushy. If your plant gets to be too large, don’t be afraid to prune it back. Spring is the best time to prune because this will give the plants time to set buds and flowers.
- Grevillea – Prune back ONLY up to 50% – to branch junction OR bump in the bark
- Eriogonum umbellatum – Shasta Sulfur Flower If you need to prune for form or looks – cut back some each year rather than wait for your plants to get too leggy.
- Achillea millefolium – Yarrow Remove the old flowers as they become brown and unattractive. This procedure, call deadheading, encourages the yarrow plant to produce new flowers, keeping your plant looking attractive throughout the season. Cut the flower stem back to right above the spot where a branching, or lateral, flower shoots off to the side. Deadheading also prevents yarrow from spreading through your yard, as it is an effective self-seeder when the dead flowers are allowed to dry completely and go to seed. Prune the central stems of the yarrow if they begin to die back. Remove these brown stems and leaves to give your plant a healthier and more attractive appearance. Yarrow tends to grow more and more stems on the outside, leaving the inner stems to die away. Cut back yarrow to within 6 inches of the ground after it has finished flowering. In colder climates, cut it back as one of the last chores in your garden before the snow flies. In warmer climates, cut it back in the spring before it begins to bud. Cutting back will promote new growth, giving you a healthier plant with stronger stems.
- Aquilegia – Columbine – Extend bloom period by pinching spent flowers back to just above a bud. Columbines can be cut back to about one-half of their height after flowering to keep the plant attractive and green for the remainder of the summer and stop the center of the plant from opening up and looking bare.
- Eriogonum – Buckwheat – Sulfur flower buckwheat can be pruned back after flowering to promote a denser, more compact plant. See here on Mound 1.
- Carpenteria – Bush Anemone – does not require pruning, but they can be cut back after flowering to preserve a rounded, bushy form. See here on Mound 2.
- Calif. Geranium – remove dead material if needed
- Arctostaphylos – Manzanita – VERY little, cleanup
- Acer – Maple – little but to correct bad structure
- Ceanothus – Mtn. Lilac (Carmel ceanothus [probably not Carmel Creeper]) – remove dead material if needed OR: (copied text below)
“You can certainly prune Ceanothus but there is a bit of a trick. First of all, never prune any stems that are larger than 1/4″ wide. Instead, prune the very tips of each branch back to where you want it to be. And, since ceanothus bloom on ‘new’ wood, this should provide you with an even more spectacular show next year. Prune after the plants are through flowering; at that time you can also remove the spent flower spikes which will also help it look less wild.”
Ceanothus by David Fross and Dieter Wilken (Timber Press, 2006) says that “an annual trimming of the new growth will maintain a more compact form and improve the appearance of most species. The removal of spent flowers and fruit improves the vigor of many cultivars and will produce a tidier form. Taller species can be trained into small trees with early pruning, and the removal of interior dead wood as plants age produces a cleaner appearance. Once the arborescent character is achieved it is easily maintained and requires minimal effort. Shearing for hedges and formal effect is tolerated by most species if cutting into woody tissue is avoided. Prune immediately after flowering, and only back to the new year’s flush of growth.” The authors mention that although it requires a lot of work, there are some species that can also be trained as small hedges or as trellis plants.
Here is the Royal Horticultural Society’s guidance on pruning evergreen Ceanothus species: “Routine pruning is not essential and in fact are best not pruned. If grown as a bush, promote branching by pinch-pruning the soft tips on young plants in spring. Use secateurs to shorten over-long branches by up to a half in midsummer after flowering. Do not cut into older wood as the stumps may not regrow.”
- Ceanothus Dark Star
Prune by heading back as much of the new-ish growth as desired in April or May, after flowering. Further prune in the same way, if desired, in November. New growth over the cool season will have time to develop flower buds for spring. Ceanothus are browsed by Deer. Think like you are a deer having a snack with your pruners. By mid-winter it is too late to prune or you will be removing the growth that would form the flower buds that will bloom in Spring (1). Not pruning immediately after flowers fade will result in branches with leaves, followed by stems with no leaves (where the flowers were) followed by leaves again. For dense shrubs, be sure to prune off the spent flower clusters. Ceanothus tend to die or not live long if given too much summer water. They are beautiful and very rewarding plants to grow, but not necessarily the easiest for new gardeners because of this (3). Older branches often do not react well to pruning, so it is better not to prune any branches greater than the diameter of a pencil (7).
- Mahonia – Oregon Grape – remove dead material if needed
- Cercis – Redbud – remove dead material if needed
- Lupinus – Silver Bush – remove dead material if needed
- Penstemon – remove dead material if needed
- Rhamus- Eve Case Coffeeberry – This shrub will require occasional maintenance and upkeep and can be pruned at any time. It has no significant negative characteristics.
- Germander Prune as needed throughout the summer growth period to maintain its shape and size. Shearing the plant every one to two months from early summer to fall results in a pleasantly shaped shrub that still flowers in spring. Note see the one listed here (Teucrium chamaedrys – dwarf wall germander. Pruned per online instructions 8/30/19)
- California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum) Plants tend to get straggly after flowering by late fall or early winter. Best to cut them back to the ground as soon as the flowers are spent, and they’ll come back lush and healthy in the spring. Otherwise, they’ll look straggly and unhealthy the next year, and are more likely to die.
- Romneya coulteri (Coulter’s Matilija poppy) Maintenance: It is advisable to cut down to 6 inches in late Summer or Fall. Dried leaves and stalks make excellent mulch when chopped or broken up. See here on Mound 1.
- Bleeding Heart – Deadheading is an important part of bleeding heart pruning. When your plant is blooming, check it every few days and remove individual spent flowers by pinching them off with your fingers. When an entire stem of flowers has passed, cut it off with pruning shears just a few inches above the ground. This will encourage the plant to devote energy to blooming rather than seed production. Even after all the flowers have passed, the plant itself will remain green for some time. Don’t cut it back yet! The plant needs the energy it will gather through its leaves to store in its roots for next year’s growth. If you cut it back while it’s still green, it will come back much smaller next spring. Cutting back bleeding heart plants should only be done after the foliage naturally fades, which should happen in early to mid-summer as temperatures begin to rise. Cut all of the foliage down to a few inches above the ground at this point.
- Euphorbia: Trimming back euphorbia stems to their base immediately following bloom throughout the spring and summer makes for a plant that doesn’t get overcrowded and flowers consistently. When a blooming stem starts to turn yellow, clip it off at its base with clean hand pruners and discard the trimmings in compost.
- Lamium: white deadnettle (Lamium album), a low-growing perennial with white flowers, and spotted deadnettle (Lamium maculatum), an herbaceous perennial with heart-shaped leaves and pink or white flowers. Both are commonly used as groundcover and may need to be pruned either to stimulate or control growth. Pruning is best done after the flowering period. Encourage Branching : New Lamium plants spread more rapidly when they are pruned to encourage branching. You can pinch plants back to a leaf joint or cut the stems with bypass pruners to encourage shoots from the cut location. Also note listed info under WINTER.