We generally prune in the winter when plants are dormant, or before they begin to leaf out (sometimes in early February). Pruning fast-growing plants (e.g. roses, tibouchinas and fuchsias) helps revive the plant, retain its size in the garden, repair form deficiencies and/or structure the plant for its space.
We always use sharp tools for the "4Ds": dead, dying, diseased or "deranged." The last characteristic refers to growth that is misformed or growing in an unusual direction (for example crossing another branch). Once we've taken care of the 4Ds, we then reduce the overall height of the plant to leave room for the upcoming year's growth, and prune so that the plant grows outward and in an open form.
When we have completed pruning, removed all the debris and insured that the root crown is properly located in the soil, we'll apply a dormant spray (depending on the plant it is often horticultural oil) which will kill many overwintering diseases and pests. By pruning first, we use much less spray material and can get the spray into those hard to reach areas.
Additional winter garden tips:
- Missing holiday lights? We can add permanent landscape lighting fixtures instead.
- This is a good time of year to take care of plants in containers, including repotting, root pruning and clearing drainage holes
- Cover succulents and citrus (not with plastic but with sheets, garbage cans or burlap) in case temperatures drop to freezing
- Be careful of slippery surfaces. We can help by power washing and sealing wood and stone surfaces which get slippery in the shade.
- It's a good idea to pick up spent camellia blooms. They will attract some funguses which will spread to the living blooms
- Adding winter annuals is a great way to liven up the garden while the perennials are dormant