Pruning Woody Plants
The main concepts of pruning are relatively simple, but the details of when, where, and how to make your cuts are key to keeping the plant healthy and obtaining the desired, long-term result from your efforts. Pruning Woody Plants, one of a series on pruning from the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, provides an overview of pruning, including a look at the goals of pruning and the correct tools you would use to do different pruning jobs. There are links to additional pruning guides offering detailed information about how and when to prune assorted deciduous shrubs and evergreens commonly grown in our region, as well as general ornamental pruning guidelines to help you do the job right. As always, if the job at hand involves a significant specimen plant or large tree branches or requires a ladder, then I strongly recommend calling in a professionally trained and certified arborist who also has experience working with ornamental plants.
Clever Gardening Technique
Early Support for Peonies
Many of the old-fashioned, heavy, double-flowered peonies need extra support or they will flop over. Usually this frustrating event occurs when a heavy rainstorm hits just as they come into full bloom. The best time to provide that support is now while the new growth is still very short. If you wait until the plants are taller, it is difficult to install the support without damaging the stems or buds. Use a traditional peony ring (with or without a grid or mesh) or round tomato cage from the garden center, or improvise a support by setting a few sturdy stakes around the perimeter of the clump and winding string from stake to stake about 6 inches off the ground. Another method is to place a round piece of chicken wire flat over the emerging stems so they grow up through it. Remove the support so you can trim the plant to the ground.