Gardening Guru Ciscoe Morris shares his secrets for caring for spring perennials.
With spring coming on strong, this is the time to cut back many woody plants. These are plants we often consider perennials, but most of them are actually woody shrubs that we can cut back as if they were perennials. It's important to cut them back, because otherwise they become leggy and woody, and some of them only flower on new growth causing all of the flowers to be way out at the end of long branches.
Cutting them back will also help keep them from getting too big.
- Salvia' Hot Lips': Cut back to lowest live growth you can find.
- Evergreen Penstemon: Wait until you see strong new growth at the base, then cut back hard to the new growth.
- Lavender - shear to make the plant attractive in fall. Shear hard in spring to within a 1/2 inch of bare wood. Do every March to slow accumulation of bare wood at base.
- Hardy Fuchsia: Wait until you see new leaves form at base. If you cut too early you might kill it. Once leaves form, cut back as far down as there is new growth at base.
- Red twig dogwood - Cut to 4 inches tall in spring. Wait a couple of years with new plants before you do it. If your red twig is growing in shade, cut back only 1/3 of the twigs to 4 inches every spring.
- Smoke tree: Cut back every branch to 4 inches every spring for an explosion of color, but now flowers. Plant will grow back to about 5 ft tall every year.
- Spiraea japonica: Great colored foliage. Cut back by two-thirds every spring.
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