Now that you know almost everything there is to know about pruning (which you learned from our blogs here, here and here), I would like to stress that it is not time to get out there and start cutting things willy nilly. There is an important rule you need to remember. This rule is called The May Rule, and remembering this rule will help you get the most bang for your buck year after year.
So what's the May Rule? Thanks for asking!
If a plant blooms before May 1st, it should be pruned as soon as the flowers are spent. Shrubs that bloom before May 1st produce flowers on last year’s woody growth, so cutting them in the early spring will leave you without flowers for a season.
Examples: Azalea, Forsythia, Spirea
If a plant blooms after May 1st, prune it before it flowers. Summer flowers are produced on new woody growth, so pruning them just before the new growth starts in early spring will ensure greater flower production.
Examples: Gardenia, Crape Myrtle (this is not an excuse for crape murder)
HOLD YOUR HORSES… because like most rules… this one has an exception! Hydrangeas. Though hydrangeas flower after May 1st, different hydrangeas need to be pruned at different times. So if you are wondering about when your hydrangeas need to be pruned, click here to visit an excellent website that shares all the deets about pruning hydrangeas!
Even though there are rules to follow when pruning, it is okay to remove dead or diseased branches at any time… so don’t let your husband use the May Rule as an excuse to watch football on the couch all day…