Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Trimming Topiaries

Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Trimming Topiaries

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 looking neat.

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.

6 Tips For The Prettiest Pansies

6 Tips For The Prettiest Pansies

Pansies don’t do well in soil that stays wet – in fact they like it on the dry side.  So, here’s 6 tips on how to prevent this problem so you can enjoy beautiful blooming pansies throughout the winter months ahead.

Pansies-Header

1. Don’t over water    

Sounds simple, but we all have a tendency to just water without checking.  Check your pots prior to watering to make sure they are dry and need watering.  If your pansies are planted in the ground, make sure they need watering.  Plants in the ground and in containers don’t require frequent watering in the fall and winter like they do during the summer. 

2. Reset your sprinkler System    

If you haven’t reset your sprinkler system from the summer setting, now is the time to do so.  As the weather cools off lawn and flower beds don’t require as much water as they do in the hotter summer months.  Set your sprinklers to water less frequently during the fall and winter.

3. Get your hands dirty or use a moisture meter     

We can look at the surface of a pot and tell if it looks dry, but how much moisture is down at the root zone.  The only way to tell is to either stick your finger in the dirt and see how wet it is or use a moisture meter that will instantly tell you if it is wet or dry.  Use one of these methods to determine if your pansies are in need of water.

4. Planting in poor draining areas    

If the area does not drain well you can create a raised bed in which to plant, thus ensuring the  plants are planted above the wet area.  This can be achieved very easily by creating a mound or longer berm out of garden soil (not potting soil) and plant into this raised area.  Cover with mulch to match the rest of your bed and your poor draining area is solved.

5. Install drainage solutions into your landscape    

You may have a drainage problem that needs a drainage solution such as a French drain or piping downspouts out of your flower beds.  Feel free to call our store with photos so we can try and give you the best method to resolve drainage issues.

6. Make sure your pots and planters drain well    

Planting pansies in pots and planters around your home gives you winter color in a variety of areas.  Make sure that they have adequate drain holes in the bottom so excess water can drain out of the pot.  If the pot is sitting on a solid surface the drain holes may not be able to drain.  Place the pot on pot toes or small blocks of wood that enables the pot to be slightly raised from the surface it is sitting on so water is able to escape out the drain holes.  Also, use the finger test or moisture meter to test if the pot needs watering.

These are just a few of the ways you can turn a wet, poor draining situation into one that is dry enough for pansies and other plants to bloom beautifully. 
If you have questions about how to solve a specific problem please give us a call at (903) 753-2223.  You can text a pic to (903)-339-0922 and we can help determine a solution to a problem or answer your questions. 
Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Abelias

Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Abelias

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 techniques.

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. 

Fall is for PLANTING!

Fall is for PLANTING!

NOW is the best time to plant trees, shrubs and vines.  Winter is the second best – so get to digging!

Summer’s heat is over, the soil is still warm – actually warmer than in the spring – and the soaking rains of winter will soon arrive.  This means deep root growth will occur quickly on shrubs and trees planted in the cooler months of the year.

Why is deep root growth important? 

Roots gather nutrients and water for plants and trees, so the better the root system the more nutrients and water the plant receives – thus appearing lusher and healthier.   Plants planted now get a head start since they are able to concentrate their energy mostly on root growth during the cooler months.

Healthier plants are the result of planting in the fall.

The same plant planted in spring gets a slower start due to spending energy on both root growth, foliage and flower growth. Also, the cool weather planted plants are better established when summer arrives and can better deal with the heat, largely due to the well-established root system.

Camellias: Sasanqua vs. Japonica

Camellias: Sasanqua vs. Japonica

Camellias are showy plants, offering long lasting blooms during the late fall and winter, lasting well into the spring.  Their large flowers brighten up your landscape during those winter months when little else is blooming.  The blooms are profuse and cover the entire bush making it the superstar of any landscape. 

There are numerous species of Camellias but the most popular varieties grown are Camellia Sasasanqua and Camellia Japonica.   These 2 varieties have similarities in their flower color but bloom at different times of the season.  Camellia Sasanqua will bloom from late Fall through early January and Camellia Japonica will bloom January through early Spring.

Camellias are known as a shade loving plants, but the Sasanqua can handle some sun.  It’s smaller than the Japonica in overall size (6’ tall and wide to 10’ tall and 6’ wide) and has smaller leaves and flowers.  Blooms are 3” – 4” in diameter, are sweet smelling and usually have ruffled edges with a burst of yellow color in their center. 

Japonicas prefer shade and are taller (12’+ for old mature plants) than Sasanquas.  Their flowers boast more petals, are often 5” wide and are stunning.  A single bush can have well over 100 flowers for weeks, blooming consistently from January through early spring.    

Both varieties offer striation or multicolored blooms, but most camellias bloom in one of three colors – white, pink or red, – in many shades from the palest shell pink to rose pink to bright red. 

These slow growing evergreens are relatively care-free.  They should only require pruning after they finish blooming.  Fertilize at the same time and again in mid-summer.  Camellias are prone to Scale and treating yearly with a horticultural spray or drench will help control these pests.

Consider adding camellias to your landscape if you haven’t already.  By planting both varieties you can enjoy the “Queen of winter flowers” from late fall through Spring.