Renewal pruning is the absolute best way to rejuvenate older, overgrown shrubs, and also the best tool for maintaining healthy shrubs! This version of a plant ‘buzz cut’ is a much-needed refresher and a very important chore for maintaining and revitalizing a tired, old, overgrown plant!
Maybe your Lilac is simply old and overgrown and you really need to rejuvenate it. Maybe you just moved into a new home and have a hedge of overgrown, forgotten Forsythias, or a single Rose bush that has become sparse and leggy. Even a consistently sheared foundation row of Evergreens can start to look less stellar as each year passes. It’s time to break out those pruners!
Here’s how to properly give your plant a reboot and not end up with the plant version of the bowl cut!
The key to a successful renewal is to cut out the oldest stems about every third year. Simply cutting out the oldest, fattest stems of an overgrown shrub, allows for younger, thinner stems to remain in place to flower and fruit. This will keep the growth in balance and maintain the best flowering and fruiting all while keeping the natural shape and size of the shrub!
By removing older, diseased, neglected, damaged, and/or less productive stems, you make room for younger and more vigorous ones. You open up the plants with better air circulation and stimulate better flowering and fruiting. Cleaning out the interior of a plant eliminates the ‘rats nest’ of any build-up of dead leaves, trash, broken twigs, and branches, and removes hiding spots for disease, fungus, and insects.
Regular renewal pruning keeps the plants looking their best. Even the more severe rejuvenation can save you thousands of dollars from having the older shrubs taken out and replaced! By thinning out old shrubs, you can bring them back to life with just a few easy steps.
But the timing of your pruning is the key to success!
Many early spring flowering plants have already formed their flowers on the growth from last year (on old wood), so pruning at the wrong time will eliminate those flowers for this spring. So if you want to enjoy the blooms first and then cut out the oldest stems you may.
If an unavoidable spring renewal pruning is necessary, and it is a spring-flowering shrub, please know that your shrub will not flower the year that you prune it. It’s just not possible for it to regrow that quickly and produce flowers. But by the following year, the flowers should be abundant.
Other shrubs that bloom on new wood like many of the smaller Spiraeas, Butterfly Bush, Diervilla, Caryoptereis, Shrub and Hybrid Roses, or Crape Myrtles can simply be cut down in late winter or early spring and new flowers will develop on the new growth each year.
Dormant plants are also easier to prune because you can see the branching without the leaves in the way. Larger, older selections can be hard pruned by removing the oldest stems out to the ground in the winter, leaving the slender, smaller stems to take over. Because you are removing the entire branch to the ground, there is no worry about missing out on that year's flowers or fruit.
For reblooming varieties like some Bloomerang Lilacs, Encore Azaleas and Reblooming Weigela, it is recommended Renewal prune right after the first flush of flowers for best results.
Renewal pruning techniques help promote bushier growth closer to the ground of older Broadleaf Evergreens such as Boxwood, Holly, Euonymus, and evergreen Viburnums. This also helps remove winter dieback and injury while encouraging new growth from within to produce a fuller plant. These plants do benefit from a yearly cleaning out of their interiors where dead needles and branches collect, crowding and shading out the interior - leading to insect, disease and moisture issues from the lack of sunlight and air circulation.
Evergreens are typically not candidates for renewal pruning. Instead plants like Japanese Yews, Arborvitae shrubs, Spreading Junipers, and Boxwood can all be pruned by heading back the longest stems back into the body of the plant (to where there is still foliage) - but never cutting them off at the ground level or they will not regrow from those cut stems without foliage on them.
Any specific pruning questions can be directed to our customer service team for help or check out that plant’s #ProPlantTips For Care on its Product Page.
Tools of the Trade
Protect yourself and save yourself some time with these tips:
Give your newly pruned shrubs a little TLC to help them recover the very best!
Water the plant well when needed using the finger test method that entire growing season. Continue right through their first winter if applicable. Provide a nice 3-4 inch layer of Arborist mulch over the root zone of the plant, covering the entire drip line area.
Keep high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer away from your flowering shrub, but instead, use one of our balanced fertilizers formulated for flowering shrubs (only when needed) as an early spring application.
Like a makeover, a Mani/Pedi, or a fresh new haircut, we all walk out of the salon feeling like a million bucks! You can update your ornamental shrubs with a smart renewal pruning job which can transform your landscape overnight. You will extend your plant's life, and enhance its health, beauty, and form - and save yourself a lot of money by not having to remove and replace the plants with Renewal Pruning! Then check out more information about Pruning
here! So do some warm-up stretches, grab a helper and get your shrubs looking and feeling young again with the help of Nature Hills Nursery!