How to Prune Perennials

Views: 15169 | Last Update: 2009-04-30
How to Prune Perennials - Provided by eHow
Any lilac or bush is a good perennial plant to prune when they get lanky. Keep perennial plants looking even, and keep them green, with instructions from a sustainable gardener in this free video series on gardening and plant care. View Video Transcript

About this Author

Yolanda Vanveen

Video Transcript

Hi, this is Yolanda Vanveen, and in this segment, we're going to learn all about how to prune perennials. Now, there's lots of different perennials, and that's any plant that comes back from year to year to year is a perennial. You don't have to start it from seed every year. It just comes back on its own. And it has a root or it has some part of the plant that goes dormant and then comes back the next year. Now, there's different types of plants that you can prune, but pretty much any lilac or bush or plant that gets lanky is the best type of plant that...to prune. And the key is when you prune is to try to only prune one-third of the plant down at one time, so that it stays even and that you're not shocking it too much. But with my roses, I have found that in the winter, I like to just hack them back because then the next year, they just stay a little more compact and full. And as long as there's some greenery or some branches coming up, I can cut them back pretty easily. So let me show you. So this rose has been beat up. The deer have attacked it, so there's no leaves. Plus, it's lost the leaves because it's almost December and it's gotten cold outside. And I haven't really taken care of it in any way. I've just let it go wild, and I think by trimming it back, this is the fall, and I can trim it back in the fall or the winter and it will come back in bloom this next summer. So when I'm trimming it back, I try not to trim too tall. So you want to go where two branches meet, and just trim it down. So once you trim it down, the main branch is that's the key. And then you're trying to...I always put all the branches right in the compost and then when I get anything that's lanky, too, as long as there's a leaf, you can trim it down. And the key is wherever it buds back out, you trim it down. And even if you're a little bit haphazard, I found, with roses, they will come back. As long as the stem is green, then they will grow, and a lot of times, different plants...you want to cut the brown branches out, too, because here and there, you lose some branches. So what I'm doing is pretty much thinning it out. And when you have these huge branches that are out of control and you just don't want them, I just try to find...you can see where there was a leaf starting right there, and I'll just trim it back there. So I'm probably going a little more than one-third of the plant, but at this point, I just want to chop it back because it is out of control. And find a place to put it where the deer won't eat it so much. So yeah, the key is to try to just condense it, and you just keep going around and around and around, and always cut to where the branches are meeting. Right here, too, I'm going to get rid of this big, long stem, and that's an easy place because you saw that little branch. And before long, you've turned your really wild-looking rose into a really civilized plant. And next year, it is just going to go to town. And as you can see, I'm chopping way more than one-third. But the rule is try to make sure and not cut too far down. And plants like lavender, as they get mature, too, they're all root, and then they're all stem and you'll see it's all woody. And if you chop it back down too far, you'll never have blooms on it again because you'll get into the main wood. So try to always cut plants down so that they're not...that they have some...a chance to grow again. And if they're an old plant that's all wood and you cut it back and cut it back, it's still wood, not doing well, just dig it up and get a new plant because gardening's about change. And when you're trimming your perennials, it's a good thing to trim them back. But if the plant is old, just put it away and start with a young plant because in the end, your garden will thank you.