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June garden tips: Pruning restores damaged plants

By Maryanne Sparks
Fauquier County Master Gardener

Area residents are realizing the effects of the harsh winter on the plants in their landscapes.

Freeze damage shows up as “tip die-back,” dead branches or mortality of the plant. By now, plants should have shown some sign of new growth, and you should have some idea if your plant survived the winter.

That is unless you have already removed the plant from your landscape.

Now is the time to do some corrective pruning.

If a plant is dead at the tips, it may be a condition referred to as “tip die-back.” The plant may be pruned to remove the unsightliness the plant. Look for a pair of healthy leaves that have leafed-out and cut just above them. Discard the dead plant material.

If a plant died to the ground as a result of the prolonged freeze and is showing new growth at the crown, as in the picture above, cut the dead branches as close to the crown as is possible. This will make way for new growth. Don’t be afraid to selectively remove a few stems of the new growth if your plant seems to be overcrowded, if you want to encourage a single stem or if you damage any new growth when removing the old. All will be OK.

If some limbs died to the ground but others did not, start removing dead limbs at the crown. Step back and look at the shape of your plant. Now go in and remove dead tips back to a pair of healthy leaves or new limbs. You can be selective as to how far toward the crown you want to prune. You will be controlling the shape of future growth. Just one note of caution: Frequently step away from you plant and look at the plant from all angles! You cannot reattach a limb once it has been cut.

Pruning as described above at this time of year and for this year’s weather conditions will encourage the plant to put out new growth. Pruning should happen when your plants tell you. Remember that plants were a little slow getting started this year. Wait until plants show much more significant new growth and you will have missed the opportunity for pruning this year.

Other garden activities to be pursued this June include continuing garden cleanup, weeding, cultivating, planting and mulching. Install supports now for top-heavy plants and vegetables. And remember that June is the beginning of turf disease time, with dollar spot, brown patch, and red thread leading the list for this month.

If you have any questions, just “ask a Master Gardener!”

Master Gardeners are available at the Warrenton Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 7:30 to noon to answer your garden and pest questions. Samples and/or pictures will help us to better answer your horticulture related questions.

Master Gardeners also staff The Horticulture Help Desk from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays at the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office at 24 Pelham Street, Warrenton, VA 20186, by telephone at 540-341-7950 ext. 1, or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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