Sunday, May 20, 2018
Home and Garden

Timely Tendings: Springtime means it's time for pruning

Yearly trim for roses: Roses should be pruned to remove damaged canes and improve the overall form. You should shorten the main canes and lateral branches to an outward facing bud, then remove small twigs and canes that are dead, diseased, injured or spindly. Your goal is to regulate height and improve air circulation and light distribution within the plant to help with disease control. Leave about half the length of each main cane that is 1 to 3 years old. Remove any dead leaves and debris around the plant to reduce fungal spores and add a new layer of mulch. Fertilize with a slow release fertilizer for roses. You should see new flowers in about eight to nine weeks.

Prune spring flowering trees and shrubs after blooming. The best time is after the last flowers fade but before new buds set in mid to late summer. The end of the dormant season is a good time to prune many trees and shrubs. Cold damaged shrubs can be pruned back to where new growth appears.

Once azaleas, poinsettias and camellias finish flowering they should be pruned. Pruning encourages new growth and produces a more compact, bushier plant. (Consult the University of Florida/IFAS Extension publication Azaleas at a Glance online at

Crape myrtle care: Prune out dead growth and crossing limbs on crape myrtles, but try not to remove the new sprouts since 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.

Help desk is open

Pinellas County Extension Lawn and Garden Help Desk is now open at Weedon Island Preserve Education Center. Master Gardeners are available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays through April. 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702

Source: Theresa Badurek, urban horticulture extension agent, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service. Learn more at or