It is important to resist the temptation to immediately hack everything in sight before winter’s arrival. By doing so you can potentially cause more harm than good. Here are a few common mistakes I’ve seen around town…please don’t be a victim.
Roses – Roses bloom on new wood, aka they flourish with fresh new growth and blooms after being trimmed. They’re a rare species of plant that respond well to what feels like “murder by garden shears.” Trimming them significantly before the first of the year is no bueno. You can shape or take off a couple of inches to make tidy but that is all. Roses, especially the Knockout or Drift should be cut down to ½ or 1/3 of their starting height mid-February. I remember February 14th / Valentine’s Day as a rule of them. Cool kids get roses or some kids cut ‘em back.
Ornamental Grasses – Really, truly and honestly speaking; ornamental grasses can be given their standard issue buzz cut anytime late fall – early spring. I’m not such a big fan the “hacked” look and prefer to minimized their time spent looking this way by trimming in early spring. Though the choice is left unto you, I do recommend any specimen’s in your care that seem to be struggling or are/have been recently plagued with a fungus to cut them down in the fall.
Azaleas – It’s too late folks, don’t do it, you missed your window of opportunity. Trim them now and say adios to any flowers you thought about having in the spring. In all actuality, you probably will still have a few if you decide to trim now but these beauties won’t be the spectacle they could’ve been.
Evergreen Shrubs that Do Not Flower – Anytime my friends, anytime
Crape Myrtles – Don’t trim now, must be done between January and March 1
Spring Bulbs – If you just planted these babies this fall, be sure to provide accurate cover/mulch to protect them from potential frost damage
Palms & Tropicals – If you own a Sago or other tropical plants shown to grow in Zone 9, please either have your covers ready for when frost is in the forecast or be prepared to trim brown fronds off. Another option is to bring them inside the garage or porch if they are in pots.
New Plantings - If you have a money tree then by all means, go ahead plant now. Plants are shocked just by moving from pot to ground, but let’s go ahead and add a frost threat and see what happens. I’d suggest waiting until after the first of March to plant.
Existing Plantings – Make sure there is enough mulch/straw around the base of each plant and that all roots are covered.
Perennials – Some get trimmed now and some get trimmed in Spring a few common varieties to prune now include: Daylilies, Salvia, Phlox and Black-Eyed Susan’s.
Irrigation – Turn your watering systems off and shut off the backflow. Also, be sure to cover the backflow, a $50-75 cover is a heck of a lot cheaper than a $300 fix on a backflow.