Last word on pruning shrubs:
Late July through Nov. 1 was described as the worst time to prune a boxwood shrub in last week’s article. The reason given was the potential for severe damage at the point where cuts had been made if there was a hard frost or a freeze before new growth/ tissue cells hardened. That risk applies not only to boxwoods but to other trees and shrubs pruned late in the season, as well.
The right time to prune is either while the plant is dormant in November or December (but not when the wood is frozen) or just before or right after the shrub breaks dormancy in spring.Because most woody-stemmed shrubs that bloom in springtime (azaleas and forsythia for example) form flower buds the prior year, it is traditional to delay pruning until after the flowers fade. Flowers on boxwood species have little ornamental value, so time of blossom is not a factor.
If pruning a number of trees or shrubs that have winter damage, wipe the blades between cuts with an antiseptic to prevent spreading from plant to plant bacteria or disease in decayed tissue. Both a 10-percent chlorine-and-water solution and isopropyl rubbing alcohol (70 percent) are effective disinfectants. I use the alcohol because no mixing is necessary and it doesn’t seem to rust or dull blades on pruners. A fellow Master Gardener tipped me off to how easily alcohol can be applied using a plastic spray bottle. I keep one with my pruning implements.
A good 20-page (free) brochure "PB1619 Best Management Practices for Pruning Landscape Trees, Shrubs and Ground Covers’"can be picked up at your county UT Extension office or downloaded to your computer from the Landscaping sub-section of the Home Garden, Lawn and Landscape link at the right side of the main UT Extension Publication webpage, UTextension.tennessee.edu/publications/.
When should ornamental grasses be cut back?
Ornamental grasses can be pruned after they turn brown or wheat-colored in autumn or left standing as a winter landscape feature then cut back in springtime. Spring removal of old ornamental grass stalks and leaves should be timed to avoid injuring the tips of new green growth. In general, cool season grasses are pruned in late winter and warm season grasses around the last frost date for your region.
Warm season grasses change color when air temperatures cool at summer’s end. Prune to leave stalks two or three inches above soil level. Varieties in the warm season category are fountain grass (Pennisetum), hardy pampas grass (Saccharum) and maiden grass (Miscanthus). Cool season grasses stay green longer in autumn and produce new growth very early the next season. If left standing in winter, cut back soon after temperatures stay above freezing. Don’t crop cool season grasses too close. That can harm the crown. Leave about 1/3 of stem height. Included in cool season varieties are ribbon grass (Phalaris), feather grass (Stipa) and Northern Seas Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium). My northern sea oats grow only 24 to 30 inches high in loose clumps. No pruning is required.
I have two types of maiden grass: zebra grass, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrius’ and porcupine grass, Miscanthus sinensis var. Porcupine Grass form tall, tight clumps. Both have lighter markings that make the foliage appear to have horizontal bands of light yellow across a dark green background. Porcupine grass is more upright. Wear gloves and long sleeves when pruning or dividing Miscanthus. Without protection serrated leaf edges can cause cuts and welts. If sections of leaves and stalks are bound together with paper masking tape prior to cutting, each level cut off can go directly to the compost pile after removal.
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Plateau Gardening written by Master Gardeners for gardeners in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland Region. Contact UT Extension Cumberland County at P.O. Box 483, Crossville, TN 38557 (484-6743) answers to horticulture questions, free publications and to learn about the Master Gardener program. Send email comments or yard and garden inquiries to Master Gardener Rae (MGardenerRae@frontiernet.net).
Last word on pruning shrubs:
- Enjoying a day on the water
Around the Town: There's plenty to look forward to this month
Ready or not, here it comes! It is August, and that means an onslaught of activities, such as tax free weekend, back to school, election day, the 127 Yard Sale, football and the fair, are all rolling into Cumberland County over the next few weeks.
Single-stream recycling tour planned
A single-stream recycling tour will be Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 9 a.m. at the Solid Waste and Recycling Center Office at 20 Maryetta St. (in the old hardware store building).
Gun and Knife Show to feature birds of prey
The Cumberland County Community Complex will be the site of an educational and informative birds of prey program provided free of charge complements of the Cumberland Mountain State Park Rangers.
FFG Resident Services presents painting to the Pat Summitt Foundation
A dramatic portrait of Pat Summitt, painted by Chuck Jensen, was presented to the Pat Summitt Foundation by Fairfield Glade Resident Services at its Community Information Event on memory care.
Zarola entertains 127 Seniors
The members of the 127 South Senior Center met Friday, July 25, for bingo and Mexican Train domino game. Conversation, along with coffee and sweets, was enjoyed by all. Helen Lord called the bingo numbers, and the prizes were furnished by Eye Centers of Tennessee. Life Care Center checked everyone's blood pressures.
- Marriage licenses (Published July 30, 2014)
Habitat celebrates 55th home dedication
Anne Crisp is excited that she and her two daughters have a home to call their own. Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity (CCHFH) dedicated the 55th home to be built in partnership with low-income families. Crisp put more than 500 hours of "sweat equity" into her home and has completed 50 hours of self-improvement, where she attended classes on budgeting, home maintenance and good neighbor among others.
Gypsy Rose to visit Fair Park
The Cumberland County Playhouse is currently performing the award-winning Broadway play “Gypsy.” A great American story set during the 1920s fading vaudeville circuit, "Gypsy" portrays the rise of famed burlesque performer and stage mother Gypsy Rose Lee as she journeys across the country with her mother and sister during a time when Vaudeville was dying and burlesque was born. The complex character of Rose could be described as bold and brassy, as she steamrolls everyone in her way to turn her daughters June and Louise into child stars.
Match August garden tasks to plant biology
During all seasons in temperate climates like ours the greenery around us is changing. New shoots appear and leaves pop out of swollen buds after spring rains.
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