Pruning. You stand in front of the shrub, shaking hands clutching the
shears. Where to start? What if I clip off too much? Maybe I'll just
Actually, pruning doesn't have to be scary. Unless you are severely
brutal, like the arboreal version of a slasher movie villain, you are
unlikely to do irreparable damage.
QUESTION: "I planted about 8 Knockout roses last spring. They did
nicely through the summer and fall. What do I need to do to get them
ready for another good year?" - Bob B.
ANSWER: This is a good time of year to prune those roses. Clip out all
dead, broken and damaged branches, and those that are crossing, and
touching. Once that is accomplished, you can decide if you want to
take any off the top as this is when you can shape your rose shrubs.
If you want to apply any fertilizer to them, this would also be the
time. I should say that, better than fertilizer, you can put a fresh
supply of aged compost around the base of each one (leaving a well
area at the base of the plant so that the trunk doesn't touch the
They don't require deadheading, but I always clip the tops of the
plants back around the latter part of July. They flush out beautifully
for the last part of summer and early fall. Enjoy those beautiful
QUESTION: "We planted Sunburst Honeylocust trees 2 and 3 years ago.
They have had very rapid growth this season. The problem is this. The
new growth is growing so fast that it is getting a weeping form with
branches weeping too low to the ground. If I remove the entire branch
it will really become top heavy. Even the top branches of the leader
steam are weeping - a lot.
"From what I have read, I don't want to tip the tree branches, but how
do I trim the top heavy weeping from a young Honeylocust without
completely removing the branch? There aren't that many branches on the
tree so I don't really want to remove any. They are all weeping but
the lowest and the highest are the most bothersome. It appears that
the new young growth is so soft it cannot support its own length. What
do I do? I'm afraid they won't make it through the winter without
substantial breakage if I leave them the way they are." -- Alysia
ANSWER: This one should be fairly simple. When removing the lower
branches just remember the fewer branches for growth, the more energy
will go into what is left. If the lower branches need to be removed
because of the need to mow under the tree or just for esthetics I
would simply go ahead and remove them.
The top leader is the only one to be concerned with, but again, not
that much! You can take a ladder if necessary, go to the top part of
the tree and snip back right above the bud where you will top the
tree. The following season, it will create another top leader but by
doing this you will cause it to do more branching down below. This is
more desirable in the overall appearance and strength of the tree.
Side branches can be trimmed the same way back to where it is not
weeping. Trimming will make it a more desirable tree.
QUESTION: "Our hostas have holes in their leaves! They appear to be
eaten by a bug. Any recommendations on what we should do?" -- Pat
Smith ANSWER: From what you tell me, an educated guess would be that
the culprits are the common garden variety of slugs. We also have
them. You can find molluscicides at many garden centers, but a popular
home remedy is a bowl of beer. Slugs are attracted to the beer, get in
the bowl and drown. Use a container that slugs would find easy to
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org