Time to prune: You can now prune those woody plants that were damaged by our few nights of freezing or near-freezing temperatures. Watch for new leaves sprouting along the branches and prune back to this point, taking care to maintain the natural shape of the plant. You may find that some of your more cold sensitive plants will need to be pruned back to the ground. It will take them a bit longer to recover, but be patient.
Once azaleas, poinsettias and camellias finish flowering they should be pruned. Pruning encourages new growth and produces a more compact, bushier plant. There is still time to prune out dead growth and crossing limbs on crape myrtles, but try not to remove the new sprouts because the flowers will be forming on this year's new growth. Pruning is not necessary for crape myrtles to flower. Prune lightly to maintain a natural form.
Heavy pruning of hibiscus is best done now. New growth should produce flowers in five to six weeks. Light maintenance pruning may be done any time of year to keep plants at desired heights.
If you planted some fall chrysanthemums, they will be putting out new growth soon. Small, flowered varieties should have the ends of new growth pinched back once they reach 6 to 8 inches high. Unless these tips are pinched, plants may develop tall, weak stems that produce only a few flowers. After you pinch, new branches will develop along the stem. Pinch all shoots every two weeks until June 10 for early varieties, and July 1 for later varieties. The fall flowers will not form if you continue to pinch later than this.
Consult the University of Florida/IFAS Extension database for more on pruning. Go to edis.ifas.ufl.edu; search "pruning landscape" for detailed information.
Source: Theresa Badurek, urban horticulture extension agent, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service. Learn more at askextension.org or pinellascountyextension.org.