The #1 question I’m asked about a topiary – “Is it hard to maintain
them?” The answer is not at all IF
you don’t let it grow too much before giving it a trim.
Let’s talk Juniper topiaries – spirals, pom-poms, poodles
and patio trees. Since junipers grow so
slowly they are perfect for topiary designs.
Under normal conditions 2 trimmings per year will keep a juniper topiary
Examine your topiary.
Look for the original shape of the topiary and decide how
much of the new growth needs to be cut off.
Do you want to trim the plant back to its original size and remove all
new growth? Would you like to increase
the plants size? If so, you will cut off
less of the new growth but follow the pattern of the original shape.
Get to trimming
Start trimming your Juniper topiary from the top down. Until you become comfortable with your
cutting ability start with a light trim in a small section. “More is not better“ when learning to
trim. It’s better to trim less and cut a
second time to attain the look you envision rather than to cut too much off.
Once you’re satisfied then trim the same amount off the rest of the plant.
If you accidentally cut too much, don’t worry. Trimming a plant causes new growth to occur
so it will fill in quickly. Just like a
not so good haircut – it grows out and you fix it.
What to trim with
I prefer using a bypass hand pruner or handheld clipping
shears – with sharp blades. Hedge trimmers
or hedge shears are difficult to maneuver and make it difficult to cut properly
from all angles.
Other topiary plants (except pines)
The same techniques will work on other species of plants
used as topiaries. Boxwood, Ligustrum,
Fig Ivy, Rosemary, Holly, etc. Keep your
trimmers sharp, follow the lines of the original topiary shape, start at the
top and work your way down and you can successfully trim any topiary.
Abelia are known for their gracefully arching branches that
are covered with flowers from June to October.
Pruning abelia plants isn’t a necessity – you can allow them to grow
freely. However, pruning will keep your
plant compact and neat looking. Although
there are many different varieties available there is no difference in pruning
The best time to prune Abelias is in late winter or early
spring. Their flowers are formed on new
growth (newly grown branches), so you don’t have to worry about losing blooms
by cutting branches at the correct time of the year.
If you have an older abelia that needs rejuvenating, you can
prune it to the ground or prune 1/3 of the oldest stems to the ground each year
before spring growth begins. Choose the
tallest branches on the interior of the plant and continue pruning stems in a
random pattern to keep the shrub natural-looking. This will promote new, compact growth.
How and What to Prune
– Prune dead stems to the ground.
– If only part of the branch is dead, cut below the dead wood and just above a lateral branch or bud.
– Long, leggy stems called water spouts (we prefer crazy arms) can be pruned to the ground any time.
– Prune the tips of all branches to maintain an even look.
– Use hand pruners for stems less than ½” in diameter and lopping shears for larger branches.
After the threat of frost has passed apply a good granular
fertilizer to your abelia making sure to water it in thoroughly. This will promote new growth for later spring
and into summer.
If we have a scorcher of a summer and your abelia looks “tired”
in August or September, prune the tips of all the branches. Once the temps drop out of the high 90s you
will begin to see new growth appear and a happy, healthy plant full of new
blooms that will last until the first frost.