Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fear Not the Pruning Shears

I have destroyed a number of plants in my day thanks to brutal pruning techniques. I can positively say the passings of a hydrangea and butterfly bush were the direct result of my inexperienced hands. So when it came to pruning my lilac last summer, I was more than a little nervous.

I decided I wasn't going to go in blind. I needed to do some serious research! Turns out, pruning a lilac will not only help the shape and appearance of the bush but it will affect the number of blooms. When it comes to the lilac's deep purple blossoms and intoxicating fragrance, the more the better. So prune I must.

The best time to prune is right after the lilac is done blooming. The spent flowers don't look great and allowing them to go to seed saps the lilac's energy. Snip. Snip. I cut the blooms off right near the base of the flower stem. If you cut later than two weeks after the blooms have faded or if you cut down too far onto the lilac branch you risk cutting off next year's blooms. Keep an eye out for any dead branches or branches that are rubbing against or crossing each other and snip those too.

I went in cautiously and thought about each and every cut. This spring has offered up evidence of my success. My research paid off with a profusion of blooms in my little corner of paradise.

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