December pruning

This week of warm days is ideal for getting outside to putter in the yard. Yesterday, the ivy on the house got its annual haircut to keep it from becoming too big next year.

Generally speaking, pruning for this year is already finished or should wait until February.

Here's why: Shrubs and trees that bloom in the spring have already made all their flower buds for next spring. Forsythia, lilac, wisteria, crab apple and other spring bloomers fall into this category. Any cutting you do now will reduce the number of flowers.

Roses should have been cut back to 3-feet tall already and if you didn't get around to pruning yours, go ahead and do that now. Also, mulch the roots of your roses with 6 to 8-inches of leaves, pine needles, compost, etc.

Another primary reason not prune to now is that pruning stimulates growth. Any pruning now will trigger tender stems that will die back the next time it freezes.

Take advantage of this warm week to remove the 3 D's - diseased, damaged and dead plant materials but leave the rest a little while longer for the sake of your plants' health.

There are dozens of garden and nature related newsletters out there. The native gardening group on Yahoo groups is about nature, birding and the environment. Their website is

If you have a favorite gardening or nature website let us know about it.


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