5 Plants You Need to Prune this Winter
Hydrangeas, Crape Myrtles, Rose Bushes, Gardenias, & Florida Anise
Did you know pruning is crucial for maintaining some of your favorite Georgia ornamental trees and shrubs, such as hydrangeas, crape myrtles, rose bushes, gardenias, and Florida anise?
Indeed, if you live in Cumming, Ga., January through early March are ideal times to prune your prized bushes.
There are four main reasons to prune your flowering shrubs in winter:
- To train shrubs to grow in a certain direction or along trellises, arbors, and fences.
- To control bushes’ growth. Through pruning, you give your overall landscape a tidy appearance.
- To correct any damage that might’ve occurred through an ice or wind storm. This type of pruning can be done throughout the year due to the unpredictability of storms.
- To reshape overgrown shrubs back to their original size and form.
Cumming, Georgia’s Top 5 Shrubs to Prune During Winter
The following bushes—from roses, to hydrangeas and gardenias, to Florida anise—should be pruned in January, February and/or March:
- Hydrangeas come in all sizes, shapes, and flowering habits. In January and February, you’ll want to prune fall-blooming hydrangeas, such as Annabelle and other smooth hydrangeas back to 6–12” from the ground. In March, you can cut back Peegee hydrangeas to 6–12” from the ground. Leave buds on the shrub for blooming. In January, you can cut back oakleaf hydrangeas to 1–2’ from the ground to maintain their shape.
- Crape myrtles need to be pruned…most of the time. Crape myrtles are known for their beautiful summer blooms and interesting bark coloration. For a beautiful tree-form crape myrtle, cut back the following:
- All sprouts growing near the ground or up from the trunk
- All interior sprouts that are growing across the tree canopy.
- All long sprouts. Cut them back to 1/2–1/4” in diameter.
- Crape myrtles that grow 18+ feet tall don’t need to be topped. Simply prune the sides, crossing branches, and suckers to maintain shape.
- For even more information visit: How to Prune Crape Myrtles – Avoid a Crape-Tastrophe!
- Butterfly bushes need to be pruned for their own good. Butterfly bushes add dimension and a pleasant honey fragrance to your Georgia landscape. Plus, they attract butterflies, hummingbirds and other nectar-loving critters. Yet, butterfly bushes can grow out of control and will benefit from a good pruning in January and February. You can trim these bushes down to 12” from the ground and they will bounce back by the spring and summer.
- Roses, the pride and joy of every Georgia gardener, need some pruning. There are three different types of roses that need to be pruned:
- Hybrid teas and grandiflora roses need to be pruned in January through March before new growth begins in spring. You should keep four to six of the best canes and prune them back to 24–30” from the ground. And don’t forget to remove all suckers sprouting from below the graft line of the plant.
- For all roses, remove old canes closest to the ground in early spring.
- Hybrid tea climbers can be pruned in early spring to remove dead or weak branches.
- Floribundas need to be pruned in February to maintain their shape and form.
- Florida anise, known for its foliage, needs to be pruned in the winter. Generally speaking, you don’t need to prune your Florida anise unless you want to shape it into a tree- or shrub-form. For a tree-form, remove all lower branches. And for a shrub, tip prune to encourage branching—especially if you have young anise trees.
Browne, Michele. “Hydrangea: A Southern Tradition,” Cobb County Extension Service Program.
Franklin, Jordan. “Crape Myrtle Pruning,” Clemson University: Cooperative Extension.
Harrison, Marie. “Florida Anise, An Uncommon Evergreen Shrub,” DavesGarden.com.
Wade, Gary, L. et. al. “Rose Culture for Georgia Gardeners,” University of Georgia: Cooperative Extension Service.
WalterReeves.com. “Butterfly Bush—Pruning.”
Ibid. “Shrub Pruning Calendar.”