The Villages Voice - February 2020

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When Can I Prune My................................?????

by Kathy Porter

WHEN CAN I PRUNE MY ____________ ?

Fill in the blank with the name of whatever shrub, perennial, vine, tree, or annual you are inquiring about. The answer is that only two things can be pruned in the month of February: roses and shade trees. Everything else has to wait until after March 15. 

I know what you are saying:  “My garden is in full bloom.” That’s because we had a very unseasonably warm January. Our plants think it’s spring because of our 80 degree temps and are growing like crazy. Please consider that it is entirely possible we will have a very cold February with extended frost and freezes as weather has a way of making up for temperature extremes from month-to-month.   All that new growth we are experiencing now is very tender and will freeze quickly if February brings days of frost or a hard freeze. Satisfy that urge to work in the yard on a nice warm day by pulling those pesky weeds that pop up regardless of the temps. Then you can turn your attention to your roses around February 14. Roses love to be pruned and mid-February is the perfect time to cut them back. Look carefully at that rose bush. You want the bush to have a vase shape with lots of good air circulation in the middle, even Knockout® and Drift® roses should be pruned to this shape. Using bypass pruners that have been sharpened and disinfected, follow the “Five D’s of Pruning” by removing Dead, Dying, Diseased, Damaged and Deformed plant material.  Also remove a limb that crosses or rubs against another limb. That rubbing will cause a wound that is the perfect entry point for pests or disease.    Make your cuts on a 45-degree angle about a quarter-of-an inch on an outfacing bud. Remove all the leaves. Yes, I said remove all the leaves and pick up any dead leaves on the mulch. This will insure you are removing any black spot, fungus or disease that might be on the leaves. Dispose of the dead leaves and stems in your lawn garbage and do not put them in your compost pile. Be sure to disinfect your pruners again before moving on to the next rose. Apply a time-release rose fertilizer, refresh the mulch, and your roses will be producing new growth and blooming again in about 4-5 weeks. As for shade trees, please don’t climb a ladder with a chain saw. Call a professional to trim your trees. Paying a professional will cost a lot less than the cost to your health if you fall off the ladder and break an arm, leg or hip. To find a certified arborist, go to the International Society of Arbor-culture (ISA) at:   Be sure to put our Spring Plant Sale on your calendar.  Saturday, March 21 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. is the date we will fill the field at the Wildwood Community Center at 6500 Powell Road with a sea of vendors who will have all the plants you need to welcome spring in your garden. We will also have educational seminars and our very popular silent auction. Don’t miss it!      Kathy Porter UF/IFAS Sumter County Master Gardener Phone: 352-569-6870 Send your gardening questions or sign up for The Gardener’s Journal at: