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How to Prune Shrubs & Gardenias

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How to Prune Shrubs & Gardenias

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Overview

Proper pruning can restore balance and improve flowering on many shrubs, including gardenias. The secret to successful pruning is to start slowly when the shrub is young, and continue to prune regularly at the correct time of year throughout the shrub's life. Drastic pruning is seldom truly necessary, and can even harm your shrubs. Some plants will not need pruning at all. The art of pruning is in knowing what to take off of the plant and when. A well pruned shrub will be healthy, long lived, aesthetically pleasing and vigorous. Proper pruning can restore balance and improve flowering on many shrubs including gardenias. The secret to successful pruning is to start slowly when the shrub is young, and continue to prune regularly at the correct time of year throughout the shrub's life. Drastic pruning is seldom truly necessary, and can even harm your shrubs. Some plants will not need pruning at all. The art of pruning is in knowing what to take off of the plant and when. A well pruned shrub will be healthy, long lived, aesthetically pleasing and vigorous.

Step 1

Examine your shrubs annually to determine when and if they need to be pruned. Look for dead or diseased wood, crossing branches or asymmetrical growth. Prune spring flowering shrubs just after flowering. Prune summer bloomers, including gardenias, in early spring, before they set new buds.

Step 2

Shape the shrub, if necessary, by lightly shearing back the outermost four to six inches of woody growth in early spring with sharp pruning shears. Clean the pruning tool blades with a cotton cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol after pruning each individual plant to avoid spreading disease. Follow the natural form of the shrub as you prune and do not alter this basic shape unless the shrub is part of a hedge. Shear hedges so that they make a subtle cone shape that is narrower at the top, to allow the lower branches to receive sun light

Step 3

Control height on larger shrubs and hedges by clipping the upper branches back to the desired height in late summer. Prune back less than a foot annually to maintain a good shape. Prune slow growing evergreen shrubs, like gardenias, lightly and regularly to maintain the desired shape.

Step 4

Remove any suckers or side shoots coming from the base of the trunk with loppers or pruning shears to keep the shrub in shape and direct energy to the rest of the plant.

Step 5

Remove dead or diseased wood at any time with loppers or pruning shears, and dispose of it well away from the shrubs to reduce the risk of spreading insect pests or pathogens.

Step 6

Remove spent flowers on gardenias and other flowering shrubs to conserve the plant's energy and encourage more flower production.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton cloth
  • Tarp

References

  • University of Oklahoma Cooperative Extension
Keywords: pruning shrubs, pruning gardenias, pruning woody shrubs

About this Author

Malia Marin is a landscape designer and freelance writer, specializing in sustainable design, native landscapes and environmental education. She holds a Masters in landscape architecture, and her professional experience includes designing parks, trails and residential landscapes. Marin has written numerous articles, over the past ten years, about landscape design for local newspapers.