Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Late Winter, Early Spring Pruning

Here are some of my early spring gardening chores. Living in  Coastal  Carolina springs comes early often in mid to late February! Of course this year seems to be a bit of an exception.I did get a little done between ice storms!

Knock Out roses are ideally suited to the climate of South Carolina because they have been bred to thrive in heat and humidity while resisting the diseases that typically plague roses in those conditions. Knock Out roses are hybrid shrub roses that are self-cleaning and do not require traditional rose pruning, making them very low maintenance. South Carolina is made up of USDA zones 7 and 8 and Knock Out roses need little protection from winter weather conditions and can be pruned in the early spring.

Knock Out Roses do not require regular pruning but bloom production and plant vigor can be increased with moderate pruning in late winter (Prune mid-to late February near the coast to mid-April in the mountains, and light pruning in summer in Carolina climates). The best way to judge when to prune is to look at the buds; when they begin to swell, it's okay to prune.

Pruning keeps the plant healthy. It promotes new growth, removes dead, broken or diseased canes and trains roses to a desired shape. Pruning encourages flowering, either more blooms or larger blooms, and is essential to keep modern rose varieties blooming repeatedly all summer long.

Every three years prune excess foliage from Knock Roses in late winter or early spring. Concentrate on shaping the bush at this time. Remove small amounts of dying foliage all year long in order to allow the roots to concentrate on healthy growth.

Mondo grass and Liriope

Mondo grass is a popular ornamental plant used to border flower beds or function as its own dramatic focal point. Though not technically a grass, this plant is actually part of the lily family. Because mondo grass can outgrow its planting location, it is important to contain it before it crowds out other plants. Prune at the appropriate time of year to ensure reduced harm to your grass.

Mondo grass takes a couple of seasons to fully spread if you are planting the plant as ground cover. Typically, during this time the plant does not need any pruning unless you want to cut off any damages or diseased leaves.

The grass thrives in regions that have mild winter conditions. It is for this reason that it should not be pruned in the late fall or winter months. Pruning causes shock to a plant, which makes it more vulnerable to the elements. Choose a time in the early spring to prune. But don't wait too long. For newly planted mondo grass that you would like to promote growth, you can mow the grass once a season. However, the tips of the grass will have a ragged look that is generally not aesthetically pleasing. Mondo grass that grows out of its planting location can either be pruned back or transplanted.

Liriope is a mounding grass-like plant that also produces central flower stalks that are colored purple in the mid-summer months. It is a warm season plant that is heat-resistant and drought-tolerant. In the late fall or early winter some of the grassy blades will turn brown and die back. Trimming the liriope plants removes the dead portions and stimulates the remaining ones to develop new growth. Liriope plants should be trimmed at least once every year while they are still dormant.

Cold weather can leave liriope (monkey grass) in tatters. Flower bed edging & borders can become overgrown and unkempt if liriope is not kept compact. The best time to trim is January-March. If you can adjust a lawn mower to highest setting, it can be used to remove all of old greenery. New sprouts have not emerged yet and will not be harmed by mower. If you wait much later, trimming by hedge trimmer/shears after checking to see how tall new sprouts have grown. Make cuts just above these sprouts.

Cut the liriope back to 2 to 3 inches high using pruning shears, or by mowing it with a lawn mower set to the same height. Rake up all of the liriope trimmings and dispose of them in the trash or place the clippings into a compost pile to decompose. If the trimmings are infected with disease or pests, do not place them into a compost pile.


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