Wild growers pruned twice a year so flowers show

Some plants grow so fast and wild they need cutting twice a year. Ironically, these that most need cutting are hardest to show in terms of how-to because the overall picture at pruning time in March and July is so crowded with branches.

So do what we do. Take it one main branch at a time. Here's one branch of a wisteria and what we cut. All the whippy, tangly newest shoots that will yield only flowers this year? Out! (Diagram of the whole plant trained and pruned in What's Coming Up 8.)

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What we leave on the plant are the stubby spurs and thick branch bases with their flower buds. This is what remains in March after we prune. In July, it's the same -- but then it's not buds but bare branches here. The vine is temporarily almost leafless. Don't worry. It grows back. Just look back up and left at how much grew between July and the next March.

Below: Blue lines mark where we will cut.


Pays to pay attention to flower buds

Weeping cherry (Prunus varieties) and Forsythia are like Wisteria in their rapid, near-wild growth. We cut many of them twice a year, too. It pays to pay attention to flower buds. When you know what they look like you will see as you prune that you are removing non-blooming wood. That lets the flowers sow off.

Below: Red-brown flower buds of an upright cherry and a weeping cherry -- the cluster at a "spur" will be the showiest.

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Below: Yellow-brown Forsythia flower buds. Where there are paired buds, there will be bloom.