Summer pruning of native plants


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Summer pruning of native plants

  1. 1. Guidelines for Summer Pruning of Native S. California Plants Most pruning of CA native plants is done in fall or winter, when plants are dormant and weather is cooler. But there are certain types of pruning – and certain plants – that are best pruned in summer or early fall. A few basic rules for prudent summer pruning are:  If possible, choose a cool, dry day. Pruning in the late afternoon also reduces stress on plant;  Plan ahead; know which branches you will prune before you cut. 90% of pruning is planning;  Do not prune more than the recommended amount. When in doubt, stop – you can always come back and prune more if need;  Always use sharp, clean tools; use the right tool for the job (large branches require heavy loppers/saw) Key pruning definitions Meristem (bud) – plant growth centers in shoots and roots Terminal bud (shoot meristem)  Grows at the tip of a shoot; causes the shoot to grow longer  Produces hormones that move downward along the shoot, inhibiting the growth of other buds on that shoot. Lateral buds (lateral meristem)  Grow along the sides of a shoot; produce the growth that makes a plant ‘bushy’.  Remain dormant until the shoot has grown long enough to diminish the influence of hormones produced by the terminal bud or until the terminal bud is pruned off – then they begin their growth.  Removing lateral buds redirects growth to the terminal bud; the shoot will lengthen & tend to grow upward. Thinning – selective removal of entire branches  Removes unwanted branches  Makes plant less dense  Purpose: health & aesthetic  Better plant heath:  remove crossing and old branches  Improve circulation  Aesthetics:  ‘train’ plant to shape  Expose branch structure Heading (including tip-pruning & shearing) - shortening branches by cutting them to a good bud or lateral branch.  Increases branching  Makes plant fuller  Purpose: mostly aesthetic  Better/denser shape  More blooms Tip-pruning (pinching) involves removal of the growing tip; stimulates the growth of lateral branches Shearing (hedging)  A form of heading that makes no attempt to cut back to a bud.  Because plants chosen for shearing typically have many lateral buds close together, you'll usually end up cutting near a bud.  Shearing stimulates many buds to produce new growth - you'll be repeating the job regularly
  2. 2. Type of pruning Time of year Removing dead, diseased or crossed branches; safety Any time needed for health & safety; Specific plants/plant groups Specific Pruning Recommendations/Notes All plants Take care to sterilize tools after pruning diseased branches; in general, prune as little as possible Gambelia (Galvezia) speciosa (Island Snapdragon) Lightly tip-prune young shoots to promote fuller shape Tip prune to shape, encourage full growth Lepechinia fragrans (Fragrant Pitcher Sage) Pinch tips to promote full growth Mint Family (Monardella species; Clinopodium/Satureja – Yerba Buena; ) Pinch tips to promote full growth * Pinus species (CA native pines) Remove 1/3 to ½ of the new growth (the ‘candle’) to promote bushy growth; remove entire candle to eliminate elongation Ceanothus species Selectively prune branches back to trunk for shaping. Epilobium canum (CA Fuschia) Tip-pruning (pinching) to promote bushy, full growth Pruning to shape or train: particularly important for young plants During active growth season After blooming season Many flowering perennials Ceanothus species Light Pruning/ ’Deadheading’: remove old flowering heads/stalks Remove spent seed heads & flowering stalks back to first set of healthy leaves; save seeds or scatter for reseeding & bird food To improve appearance, plant vigor Diplacus/Mimulus (Monkeyflowers) As plants finish flowering As above; promotes second bloom Gambelia (Galvezia) speciosa (Island Snapdragon) Deadhead as flowers fade; promotes prolonged bloom. Penstemons As above; promotes second bloom * Philadelphus lewisii (Mock Orange) Deadhead as flowers fade; promotes prolonged bloom. Succulent plants (Agave, Dudleya) Verbena lilacina Deadhead to improve appearance, or later to provide seed for birds As above; nearly year-round blooms
  3. 3. Type of pruning Time of year Specific plants/plant groups * Carpenteria californica (Bush anemone) Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon) * Justicia californica (Chuparose) Thinning: moderate, selective pruning (removing at least 1/3 of growth) to promote fuller growth & control size** Keckiella cordifolia After blooming in late summer * Philadelphus lewisii (Mock Orange) Prunus ilicifolia (Holly-leaf Cherry) Salvia species - * Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland Sage, including ‘Winifred Gilman’); faster-growing shrubby hybrids of S. clevelandii (‘Allen Chickering’; ‘Aromas’; ‘Ponzo Blue’) Specific Pruning Recommendations/Notes Cut stems to 1/3 to ½ of length following blooming Selectively prune to open foliage; remove suckers Selectively remove older branches to promote next year’s blooms Can cut back stems to 6 in. stubs in summer Selectively remove old canes Selectively prune to open foliage Remove outer ¼ to 1/3 of branch length yearly, starting with young plants Cercocarpus species (Mountain Mahogany) Hedge-shearing as needed. Most of these plants do not require hedge-shearing, but will tolerate light to moderate shearing Yearly shearing or mowing (regularly removing much of new growth) As needed during the growth season, or (better) once a year after plant has completed yearly growth, flowering and fruiting (fall/winter). When plant is dormant or has completed flowering & growth, (late summer through fall) Can be hedge-sheared; * Garrya (Silk Tassel) Can be hedge-sheared; * Myrica californica (Wax Myrtle) Prunus ilicifolia (Holly-leaf Cherry) * Rhamnus species (Coffee- & Red-berry) Rhus ovata (Sugar Bush) Rhus integrifolia (Lemonadeberry) * Umbellelaria californica (CA Bay) Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) Can be hedge-sheared; Can be moderately hedgesheared; Can be hedge-sheared after fruiting Can be very lightly hedgesheared; Can be hedge-sheared; Can be hedge-sheared; Mow or cut back to 2-4 inches Anemopsis californica (Yerba Mansa) Mow or cut back to 2-4 inches Artemisia douglasiana (Mugwort) * Calycanthus occidentalis (Spicebush) Cut back spent stems nearly to the ground Can be sheared to shape, even hedge-sheared Encelia californica (CA Encelia) Cut back to 4-6 in. each fall for shrubby full shape
  4. 4. Type of pruning Time of year Specific plants/plant groups Grindelia species (Gumplant) Yearly shearing or mowing (regularly removing much of new growth) When plant is dormant or has completed flowering & growth, (late summer through fall) Heterotheca (perennial) Iris douglasii (and cultivars) Lepechinia calycona ‘Rocky Point’ Mimulus cardinalis (Scarlet Monkeyflower) Specific Pruning Recommendations/Notes Cut back flowering stems or shear almost to the ground Shear with scissors or weed trimmer Old leaves can be cut to several inches yearly (never pull off) Cut back to 4-6 inch stubs Cut back stems to 1-2 inches Salvia spathacea (Hummingbird Sage) Cut back spent flowering stalks to the ground yearly once established Sisyrinchium bellum (Blue-eyed Grass); also * S. californicum (Yellow-eyed grass) Cut back to ground when dormant for tidier appearance Solanum species (Nightshades) Venegasia carpesioides (Canyon Sunflower) Comarostaphylis diversifolia (Summer Holly) * Cornus species Severe pruning to rejuvenate plants – done only occasionally, as needed Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon) Summer/early fall – after the bloom period * Philadelphus lewisii (Mock Orange) Ribes viburnifolium (Catalina perfume) Rosa californica (CA Wild Rose) Removing dead leaves & rejuvenating grasses & grass-like plants Occasional mowing during growth season A few native grasses & sedges (Bouteloua; Carex; Distichlis; Leymus triticoides) Cut flowering stalks to base of plant Cut back to 4-6 inches yearly to promote bushy shape, flowering Cut back old plant to basal burl to rejuvenate Can prune heavily to rejuvenate as needed Cut back severely only to rejuvenate an old, leggy plant; coppice to produce a low, mounded shrub Cut back plants with sparse, woody foliage to promote dense new growth; recommended about every 5 years Cut old plants back severely with string trimmer to rejuvenate Cut old plants to the ground to rejuvenate Cut high (4-6 inches tall) several times during growing season * Plant is a California native, but is not native to southwestern Los Angeles county ** Over the long run, pruning to limit size does not work well for most CA native plants