It's hard to imagine cooler weather will ever come when triple digits are still occurring every day! Believe it or not, now is the time to identify which plants may need some light pruning later this month.
Although Spring is known for being the best time to do hard pruning, I always like to do a Fall cleanup as well.
Perhaps you are like me, and have neglected your plants due to the scorching heat of this summer. That is okay - especially when it comes to pruning, which is stressful to plants (and you) in the middle of summer.
However, mid to late-September is the last time of year to safely do some pruning of many shrubs and perennials.
So why would you prune plants in September?
It could be that some of your plants have become large and are in danger of outgrowing their space. With a few more months of warm temperatures, they will likely continue to grow bigger before they slow down for winter.
That makes September a good time to do a light pruning on plants like salvia, lantana and evergreens.
Before you grab your shears or loppers, keep in mind that late summer pruning should be lighter than what is done in Spring and done when temps are below 100 degrees. The goal is to give the plants enough time in warmer months to put on new growth that will carry them through the winter months.
September is also the last month to do any pruning on hydrangeas. Hydrangeas bloom best off of the old wood, so by pruning now, you allow a small flush of growth to come out this autumn, which will be your old wood for next year. Pruning in the winter may severely curtail the amount of bloom you get for next year. Pruning is only necessary to remove any dead wood or if the hydrangea has grown out of bounds. Hydrangea macrophylla (mop head or big leaf) and hydrangea quercifolia (oak leaf) are both examples of hydrangeas that bloom on old wood.
I have tried in the past to do as much pruning as I can by hand, using clippers, hedge shears and loppers. Lately, due to a lack of time (and energy!), I have opted for a combination of my Greenworks battery-operated hedger and the hand tools.
Hedgers make quick work of the pruning, but can leave behind jagged cuts and I don't have as much control of WHERE the cuts land...maybe that's just user error!
So, once the hedger does its job, I follow up with shears or clippers to fine-tune anything that needs it. NEVER use hedge trimmers on your roses, though!
So, what plants in your garden will make the cut to get ready for Fall and cooler weather?
“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face."
― John Donne