Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Search Results for: Shrubs--Care and maintenance | Search the catalog for: Shrubs--Care and maintenance

Recommended Websites

Information Resources for Shrubs

More websites

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Lavatera, Shrubs--Care and maintenance

When and how do I prune my lavatera tree? We used to think this plant was a bush!


Lavatera does tend to grow vigorously, and can get quite woody. You can cut a third off the top of each stem in late autumn, and then in mid-spring finish your pruning by cutting all the previous year's growth to about 6 inches from the ground. Hard pruning will encourage flowering, and keep the plant more compact. New shoots may be slow to appear (may not happen until early summer).

In my experience, a small start of Lavatera turned into an 8 foot tree in one year, and because it was in a spot where a tree was not desirable, I took a cutting, then dug up the plant, and started afresh--but this may be an extreme solution to the problem!

Date 2017-09-27
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Shrubs--Care and maintenance, Syringa, Transplanting

I have a dark purple lilac tree growing on the north side of my home. It does not get a lot of sunlight. I am wondering about replanting it somewhere else in the yard. When can I do this?


Lilacs should be able to tolerate moderate shade, according to The Plant Care Manual by Stefan Buczacki (Crown Publishers, 1993). You can move it to a sunnier location to see if it will thrive there.

The best time to transplant a lilac is before it leafs out (late winter, when it is dormant) but apparently they are somewhat tolerant of being moved at less-than-ideal times. The University of British Columbia Botanical Garden discussion forum also recommends transplanting lilacs in dormancy. Blooming should not be affected, unless your bush is already leafed out and in bud.

Date 2017-08-15
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Pruning shrubs, Shrubs--Care and maintenance, Calluna, Erica

How do I care now, in the fall, for very well established, huge (in some cases) Callunas? Do they get sheared? If so, how many times a year, and how far back? Also, how do I prune my heaths?


The American Horticultural Society Pruning and Training Manual, ed. by C. Brickell, 1996, p. 183, 193 recommends pruning Calluna (heather) in the same way as Erica cinerea. Prune or trim lightly in early spring, cutting stems back where possible to strong shoots below the spent flower cluster.

Local pruning expert Cass Turnbull of Plant Amnesty says the following about heaths and heathers (Erica and Calluna) in her Guide to Pruning (Sasquatch Books, 2006): "Spring bloomers are sheared shortly after blooming (in the spring). Summer/fall bloomers are also sheared in the early spring (just as new growth starts), so that the attractive seed heads are left in view all winter. An annual light shearing is all that is needed. Don't wait. Do it now before the plants get too old and woody. When cut too far into old brown, barren branches, a plant may not break bud and green back up. If you have inherited a mature yard, it may be necessary to severely prune an old neglected heather. It will either regenerate or die. Probably the latter. An exception is the tree heath, Erica arborea, which (...) responds well to radical renovation."

For further information, consult the following websites of nurseries specializing in these plants:
Heaths and Heathers Nursery
Dayton Nursery

Date 2018-08-23
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Shrubs--Care and maintenance, Rhododendron

Should you remove old blooms from rhododendrons and, if you should, which is best: to prune or snap them off?


Here is what the American Rhododendron Society says on the subject:

"It is desirable, with the large flowered rhododendrons, to remove the withered flower clusters after the blooming season. This is fairly easily done as the central axis of the cluster, usually called a truss, will break free from the plant with a quick snap of the thumb pushing on the side, or can be cut off with a hand pruner. With the smaller flowered rhododendrons and azaleas, dead-heading is labor intensive and and generally is not required.

Dead-heading is usually done to make the bush look more attractive, to reduce the prevalence of fungus and to prevent a heavy set of seed. If it is not possible to remove the old flowers, it is usually not too detrimental, but flowering the next year may be reduced."

I have several mature rhododendrons in my own garden, and I deadhead the parts of the shrubs which are easily reachable, leaving the other areas to their own devices. For me, it's an aesthetic choice, and I would probably do them all if I could reach and if I didn't get very tired of the task. (It's hard to do well with gloves since you can't easily feel the right place to snap off the flower head, but it's sticky work without the gloves.) I've never tried pruning them off, because it seems less precise (leaves a bit of a stub), but if rhododendron experts approve (as indicated above), I may just try it this year.

Date 2018-03-14
Link to this record only (permalink)

Didn't find an answer to your question? Ask us directly!

Browse keywords

Search Again: