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Timely tendings: Prune woody plants, hibiscus

Spring is here and you can now prune those woody plants that were damaged by 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.

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 height.

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 growing 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 online University of Florida/IFAS Extension publication, Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs, at for additional pruning information.

Information from Carol Suggs and Theresa Badurek of the Pinellas County Extension Service and from the Hillsborough County Extension Gardening Almanac. Go to the extension websites at and

Timely tendings: Prune woody plants, hibiscus 03/12/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 12, 2011 3:30am]
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