Leesa Metzger is a landscaper in Northern Indiana and a former agriculture, botany and horticulture teacher. Leesa owns Metzger Landscaping & Design LLC, where her company’s mission is “We Turn Gardens into Art”. To learn more about their services visit metzgerlandscaping.net Leesa is a garden writer, authors the “Ask the Landscaper” newspaper column and serves on the North Manchester Beautification Committee.
 

Recent Blog Posts

May 23
SPRING PRUNING  

Apr 20
Spring Flowering Trees  

Apr 17
The Great Perennial Divide  

Apr 06
Pruning Lilacs   (1 comment)

Mar 22
Creative Landscapes for Country Settings  

Feb 13
Valentine’s Blooms  

Nov 13
Helpful Tips for Overwintering Plants  

Nov 06
Saving Seeds  

 

 

Categories
 

SPRING PRUNING
by Leesa Metzger - posted 05/23/19

It's Spring; What Can I Prune? Confused about when and what to prune in the Spring? Spring has its own set of rules and reasons for pruning.

Spring is an awesome time for gardeners. You can focus your attention on lots of different tasks, each day bringing a completely different set of challenges and each task completed a new sense of accomplishment. Pruning is one of those tasks that can be a bit confusing, though. Pruning a plant in the wrong season can cause undue setbacks, but when done in the proper season pruning is extremely helpful. For healthy, tidy plants with great-looking blooms it's important to prune the right thing at the right time.

 

Spring bloomers, like forsythia, quince, lilac and azalea, should be pruned soon after they finish blooming. These shrubs bloom on "old" wood. Pruning early in the season allows the longest amount of time for them to grow next year's buds. Use prudent judgement, however; these plants may not need pruning at all if they are in a good spot and healthy. They often look their best when they grow as naturally as possible. There is no need to prune just because you have time on your hands.

 

Repeat Bloomers is a category of flowering shrubs that produce multiple bloom cycles per year. Each year, new brands of roses, azaleas, hydrangeas and more appear in garden centers presenting the question: When should they be pruned? Many of these bloom on both old and new wood, with the first round of flowers appearing mid-spring. In spring, treat these shrubs as you would the spring bloomers by pruning as soon as the first bloom cycle is complete. If the plants are still well shaped and suitably sized, limit pruning to the removal of spent blooms.

 

When hedges such as boxwood, holly, ligustrum, yews and others which are grown for foliage rather than flowers, put on their first flush of new growth they may look a bit shaggy. For a tightly groomed appearance, shear them. Cut the young foliage only, about half the distance back toward the old growth (for instance, a flush of four inches should be cut to two inches). Pruning in this manner allows the plant to grow slightly larger, which helps the canopy stay deep and full. It will also help to minimize production of long shoots.

 

Old shrubs that have grown too large for their space, or have seen extensive damage from cold, disease or insects, may require renewal pruning. Simply put, they are cut to the ground and allowed to regrow from root suckers. This drastic measure is often used to get a few more years out of shrubs that will in the future have to be replaced. Spring is the time to do this, at the time when the first buds begin to swell at the branch tips but before the new growth starts to emerge.

As the suckers grow back, pinch the tips to force these aggressive shoots to produce lateral branches for a bushier plant.

 

Basic tools for pruning these categories of plants include hand-held pruners, loppers, shears and pruning saw. Hand pruners work well for fine stems and branches up to æ inch in diameter. Bi-cut “loppers” are used for branches between 1/2 inch and 2 inches. A saw is necessary for larger branches. Shears are used to keep hedges and topiaries groomed by cutting through soft green growing tips.  Keep tools sharp and clean. Sharp tools make clean cuts which heal far more quickly than those that are full and leave ragged cuts.  A spring “haircut” or proper pruning will reward you for your diligent work with beautiful foliage and bloom all summer long!

Comments (0) | Leave a Comment | RSS | Print | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter |

Spring Flowering Trees
by Leesa Metzger - posted 04/20/18

I'm a Hoosier girl, and spring is one of my favorite times of the year. In the springtime in Indiana bodacious blooms abound. From tulips and daffodils to crabapples, every plant appears to join me in a celebration of the end of winter and the beginning of a new season.

I get the most enjoyment out of all the small trees showing off and vying for our attention. Every vista is picture worthy. Crabapples adorn every branch with a flurry of flowers. Hundreds of crabapple cultivars exist so if a crabapple is in your planting future do your homework to make sure the tree and fruit size, flower color and disease resistance fits your needs.

The flowers of Redbud are a sure sign spring in the Midwest. Redbud, Cercis canadensis, grows as a native under story tree throughout the forests of the eastern US. It can grow to 30 feet tall and a bit wider at maturity. Redbud also blooms at an early age of 4-7 years. Even the trunks of older trees show off in spring as they parade their pink-purple flowers.

 

I would rank Flowering Dogwood as the most commonly desired spring flowering tree. The large white bracts (those actually aren't flower petals) of Flowering Dogwood flowers are held at the ends of branches like chalices waiting for spring rains. Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida, is native to a large range of the eastern US.  Dogwoods are understory trees so they like afternoon shade, wood mulch, plenty of organic matter and moist well-drained acidic soil. Flowering Dogwoods hate to be too wet or too dry.  We have a great selection of spring flowering trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals at Metzger Landscaping in North Manchester. We invite you to stop by our nursery Monday-Friday 8-5 and Saturdays 8-4!

Comments (0) | Leave a Comment | RSS | Print | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter |

The Great Perennial Divide
by Leesa Metzger - posted 04/17/18

Most gardeners have a spring ritual that includes walking their garden in search of emerging plants. We begin to get an idea of which plants have expanded well beyond their borders. The quick use of a sharp spade now is better than attempting the eradication of a full-blown invasion later. Thus, it is time for the great perennial divide!

April is the time to divide perennials for many reasons: plants have outgrown their space; plants aren't doing well in that site because of sun, shade or moisture requirements; plants got way too big; flowers were not the color you anticipated; or maybe you have decided it would look so much better in another spot. Or maybe you just feel like digging. Remember the adage: "Every good garden has been in a wheelbarrow at least three times."

Dividing can be an invigorating process for plants in which the center tends to die out. Some such as yarrow, aster, perennial sunflower, obedient plant and black-eyed Susan perform better if they are divided every few years to keep them in bounds.

April is an ideal time to move/divide most perennials. However, peonies should be divided only in September. Bearded irises are divided in July and August. Plants that form underground rhizomes or multiple crowns are easy to divide.

Everyone has their favorite method of dividing perennials and their favorite implement of destruction. I prefer a small sharp spade to divide large clumps. Shove the spade into the soil on the outside of the planting and continue around in the size of sections you want. I often have to jump on the spade to get through thick stems. .

Some gardeners prefer digging around the clump and using two garden forks to pull the clump apart. Divisions can be as large as you want, but four-inch diameter sections work well for most plants. Smaller divisions may not bloom as well for a couple of years.

The whole clump does not have to be lifted. Sections from the outside of the planting can be removed to reduce the size of the planting or to leave the mother plant intact. For many perennial plants the most vigorous shoots are on the outside of the clump. This method works well for space invaders such as beebalm, mint and anything that spreads by runners to form a colony (or in the case of mint, its own country).

Some plants such as daylilies, catmint, and astilbe have more of a central crown. Dig out the whole plant and make divisions using a spade or garden knife or in the case of ornamental grasses an axe works well.

Replant divisions immediately, plant into pots, heel into a pile of moist mulch for planting later or put on your neighbor's doorstep. Be sure to water plants thoroughly after replanting. Before replanting, amend soil with compost if needed. Most perennials do not flower as well the year they are divided, so don't be discouraged.

Some plants do not like to be moved or divided. These include baby's breath, old fashioned bleeding heart, balloon flower, monkshood, blue indigo, gas plant, sea holly, lupine and butterfly weed.

Other April gardening activities include removing last year's perennial stems, trim butterfly bush, caryopteris and Russian sage back to 6-8 inches and remove any winter mulch from perennials and roses. Ornamental grasses should be cut down before new growth emerges.

Comments (0) | Leave a Comment | RSS | Print | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter |

Jump to page:  1 2 3 >  Last »