More than three years later, here’s what that burning bush looks like now…
Trim Your Bushes WAY Back… Part 2
Updated : August 4, 2020
The Most Fun You Can Have With Your Bibs On!
More than three years later, here’s what that burning bush looks like now…
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I have a “dwarf” lilac which is huge and absolutely taking over my flower bed and also blocking sun from other flowers. I understand the best time to prune it is after it’s bloomed (so, basically now, mid-June) but I’m afraid I’ll do something to harm it. Any hints or info you can give me will be greatly appreciated!!!
The best time to prune it, especially if pruning severely, is after Thanksgiving when the plant is dormant. You can prune it now, but heavy pruning should be done when dormant. The simple answer is to wait and prune all you want. Right now the plant is distracting the rest of the landscape so you have to decide to take a shot at cutting it way back. Should be fine, but I can’t guarantee anything.
Charline Jolly says
I have a leggy Spirea on my property line. My neighbor and I cut it to 3 or 4″ above the ground. It bounced right back in the Spring and bloomed like crazy.
Melissa Robins says
I have very over grown gardenias. Most of the leaves are on the top third of the bush. They have just finished blooming. Can I cut them way down, now.
I’m not sure, waiting until the end of season would be the safest but I suspect if you cut them now they’d be fine.
Hi Mike, Big Fan…I have horsetail…Yikes. My research tells me it takes years to get rid of and the roots can go down six feet. This year it has taken over we tried to burn it this year. Came back within 3 weeks. Help!!!
See this; https://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehipm/pdf/horsetail.pdf
Sharon Mullinix says
Hi Mike, thanks for your great videos. I have a Japanese Maple that is too close to the house. It’s taller than the two story roofline and is only a few feet from the foundation. I’d like to either take it out or cut it way back. It has lots of leaves about 4 feet off the ground and a lot on top but the middle is really sparse. So it’s pretty ugly. Suggestions.
You can cut it back, but if it’s that close to the house you might want to remove it.
I have Joseph Coats rose which are 4 years old. I have three of them. The first year they had beautiful blossoms all year long. The second year they had only a few and the third year they had none. This year they have had two blossoms and they stay red. I cut them in the spring down to the green and they grow like mad in the summer. Any suggestions on what I can do to get the blossoms back?
Try a blossom booster fertilizer, something really high in phosphorous, low in nitrogen.
Charline Jolly says
Get some compost and scratch it in around those roses! Give them bone meal and/or blood meal. A small sprinkle of Epsom Salts might work wonders! Are you deep watering? Set your hose to dribble and let it run for hours, moving it from one plant to another. DO NOT SPRINKLE ROSES. Soak them once a week.
I would like to set up a nursery like you talk about but I live in North Queensland
Do you know if there’s anyone in Australia who does what you do or are you able to export cuttings to North Queensland
I’ve had people in the past who have done this successfully in Australia. Shipping cuttings out of the country isn’t really feasible but there are lots of place to get cuttings in your area.
Martha Cranford says
I found some baby dogwood trees that came up from seeds that are about 5 inches tall, my question is when can I move these trees to a permanent place. they are in my garden now. Thank you
If don’t damage any roots they can be moved now, but waiting until they are dormant is a much better option.
Judith Collins says
I have Euyonomous *spelling? that grow to 5-6 feet tall and more…. they have fragrant white clusters of flowers on them that attract bees like crazy. I live in St. Louis and hindsight is better than foresight.
I cut them back twice and they still grow like crazy… I used them as a barrier to cover opening for under the deck area (to hide open space … great idea… but whoa is me…. now they are getting gigantic well real tall …..and lots to handle…. they are great too for cuttings…. I used them (as a living fence for backyard….. and they grow flat along my trellis and make great privacy…. buttttt then again whoa is me…. so…. I watched your video…. how far do you think I should cut them back… without destroying them… I’m so pooped because of all the cutting back (I have 6 of them) I’m thinking about replacing them one at a time with something that stays green all winter…. (that’s why I liked them I they get a red berry on them too) Any advice?
Judith – St. Louis….
PS… I just came in from cutting grass pulling weeds re-configuring parts of garden and yes contemplating these huge euyonomous….. when I saw your tips on pruning…. it seems the more I prune the more they grow!
I agree that the more you trim them the more they’ll grow. But if I were to replace them I’d replace them all at once so the new plants are not shade by the old and they all grow at the same rate.
I live in middle Tennessee zone 6. My boxwood bushes have gotten out of control with growth this summer. There are reaching 5′ and I would like to cut about 2′ off of them. They are very established on the south facing side of my home. Shod I just trim off the new growth now or can I prime them down farther without killing them?
You can cut them back pretty much as much as you want but the best time to do that would be after Thanksgiving when the plants are dormant. Then they’ll spend the winter making new buds for spring. They won’t fill back in quickly, but eventually they will. Of course there is always a risk when trimming anything that severely, but in most cases it works out just fine.
Jan Pancheri says
Mike, you never showed how to prune the bushes in either of videos 1 or 2. Do you show that in another video somewhere?
I simply pruned the bushes with a pair of lopping shears, not really paying much attention to exactly where to cut, but to simply cut them back.
Lynne Held says
Can 20-year old Japanese Holly that is about 5 feet tall be pruned hard to about 2 feet in zone 7 December? I’d like it to stay under 3 feet. Currently only the outer 6 inches have leaves.
This is a pretty severe pruning on an evergreen and it could kill the plant. You have to decide whether or not you are willing to take the risk. If you don’t like the plant the way it is . . . you have to decide.
Lola josey says
How proud you must be of your son, Duston! he is easy on the eyes,for sure,
And quite articulate. Now almost 74, I still would like to give this backyard thing a chance. I have many medrool dates growing from seed, as well as
CiTrus, Key limes, etc oak leaf hydrangeas, azaleas, etc. How do I sign up?
Start here; http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Mike, How far back do you cut Lavender, and when is the best time of year?
If you want to cut it back really hard the ideal time would be when the plant is dormant, after Thanksgiving, but trimming anytime is fine.
Just a long question :). I recently moved to a new to me house, and i inherited my in laws’ garden. The problem is that their idea of a garden is a lot of rocks and a few trees/bushes, so i’m trying to tame the whole thing and plant a real garden, with more than one variety of plant in it (not counting the weeds that have sprouted over the years on the black fabric- whatever it’s called- that is under the rocks, but i digress). There’s a tree/bush (not sure) in particular that has never been pruned, i think it’s about 7-10 years old- about ten feet high, and neither one of them can tell me what it’s called, but it’s smack in front of the house, and it looks sick (I’ve checked to see for insects, but nothing that would cause its leaves to wilt the way they do, just a few spiders- i asked my mother in law, and she said that’s what it is supposed to look like. I tell you, nothing is supposed to look like that. i wish i could add a picture to show you). It doesn’t flower, and it’s the first to lose its leaves in the fall (we live on zone 4), and the last to get leaves in the spring, this year it was bare until June. My first reaction was to cut it down, but they really, really, like this tree (they live across the field from us). Can i prune it down hard like this, come winter? should i get a horticulturist to take a look at it? poor thing is so ugly- but i got to pick my battles. I can’t even plant anything under it because the branches almost reach the ground, and grow in a tangled mess everywhere else. It is also lopsided, with a couple shoots on the left side, about 2-3 feet over the rest. I’d appreciate the help greatly (sorry for the long one, and hope it’s understandable- English is not my first language). Thanks! love your videos and blog, btw 🙂
The short answer is limb it up from the bottom so it’s not hanging to the ground, then later, or now if you wish, fall would be better, trim the top as needed to get it balanced, untangled and back in shape. Whatever it is I’m sure it would recover. Almost sounds like a Harry Lauder’s walking stick but probably not. Sounds like something that is of a weeping variety.
Diane Gidaro says
I wonder if you would give advice on trimming a lilac bush. When, and how much. The bush in my yard is about 8-10 ft. tall, very bushy and round. It only had a few blooms on it last year – perhaps the harsh winter had something to do with that. Thank, Mike for your wonderful messages. Love your site.
Sigrid Lefebvre says
Hi Mike, I received my propagator and now want to know what to do with it. Do you cut the branch underneath the new growth and then start a new bush with the new growth in the propagator? I somehow don’t think that it right. Could you point me to a video where you discuss my question? Thank you.
Sigrid, here’s the video https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2012/05/clam-shell-air-propagator/
Carole Harland says
1. I did not recieve your book when I joined.
2. Can I cut back ever greens the sane way you cut back the Burning Bush? These are old and have had no care – all bare wood inside.
You can cut back evergreens but it should be done when they are dormant during the winter. It’s a bit riskier for the plant so you have to decide whether or not to take that chance.
Adagio Micanthus Senisis ornamental grass: After winter and pruned in spring to 6″ there is very little growth, and a few no growth. What to do to revive. Thank you
Not much you can do but wait, many grasses were killed completely over last winter.
mary lucereo says
I have a yew next to my front steps. It has gotten waaaay too big can I cut it down or will it kill it? if so, how far can I cut it down to. the center of the bush has no needles anymore.
With evergreens this is a bit risky, but if you are willing to take that chance do it during the early winter when the plant is dormant. Chances are it will be fine, but of course I can’t promise that. You have to be willing to take the chance.
thanks. I think I will try it, cause it is spreading over the walkway.
Jenn Curtis says
I would like to know if you know when to prune a Elderberry bush and if it needs to be over 2 years old and what parts to prune without killing the entire bush. I have 2 of these and they are over 12 feet tall now in just 2 years. I’ve been advised not to cut them or the umbrels that the berries produce from or they will not produce the berries any longer. Don’t know if this is true or not but need to keep them from growing over our 8 foot fence.
Jenn in Oregon
My guess is that after pruning they will be fine. That’s what plants do, they know how to survive. But not being familiar with Elderberry that’s and educated guess. Trim when dormant to reduce shock to the plant.
Thank you for taking the time to help others maintain their plants.
Linna Lawrence says
I enjoy letting the plants get as much growth as possible and not go for the manicured look. We live in the northwest and on 2 1/2 acres of land. It is surrounded by Alder trees, Pine trees etc. So the absolute manicured look doesn’t fit here. How do I get the most growth out of a plant or tree? Fertilizer or ???
Nice video, true to what you are saying. Thank you. Linda
wendy schleyer says
boxwood got ruined this winter can you talk about what to do with those Please?
Rita Buck says
I have 2 sandcherry bushes/trees I need to trim them back getting quite tall and bushy, when should I do that I live in zone 4?
Rita, the ideal time is after they go dormant for the winter. At that time you can cut them back really hard and they won’t mind at all.
JULIA WREN says
I WAS SENT A DOZEN WHITE ROSES FROM A VERY SPECIAL FRIEND. THEY ARE STARTING TO WILT. IS THERE A WAY TO GET SEEDS FROM THEM TO MAKE NEW PLANTS? OR TO PRESERVE THESE. I HATE TO THROW THEM AWAY. THEY HAVE SO MUCH MEANING TO ME. CAN YOU HELP?
Julia, you can try cuttings like this http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
Can I trim back my Sandcherry bush in the Spring or should I wait until this fall/winter. It is very long and lanky and not full. THanks!
Chista, my take is that if something needs pruning the sooner the better. Waiting only compounds the problem.
What about juniper type bushes mine are about 10 ft by 15 ft can you prune them back and when is the best time to do it ?
Michael Crawford says
Love the info………………..
Brenda Phillips says
I need help with my peach trees. Last fall (every fall) I treat the trunks with a peach-bore killer…I have never used it higher than 2-3′ up.
This spring, my trees looked dead up to the middle of the tree. Obvious attack by some bug. I cut all the dead wood off, sprayed some bug killer recommended for these trees. Will spray again in July and treat the trunk. But the question is: Am I going to lose these trees anyway. They look healthy and are loaded with peaches. They look very healthy but they are dropping many peaches and the trunk and main branches look dry and dead. What has happened?
What now? Please advise…and thanks so much for your site!
[email protected] says
Can you cut back unsightly barberry bushes now or is it better to wait until fall?
Thanks, Mary anne Penzone