Saturday, February 25, 2012

Good cut, bad cut

I hope that everyone has been out this week enjoying the brief burst of sunshine! If you've been out, walking the neighborhood, you may notice a few garden tasks that have gone undone. Not at Pennsylvania Garden of course (hah!) but I will tell you a cautionary tale about pruning Salvias and provide a tutorial on how to get the job done properly.

The first photo is a crop to protect the identity of the homeowners from a shall-remain-nameless fancy home publication. Dare to say that even fancy homes featured in magazines can have ill-maintained yards. Notice the the Salvia leucantha is tied together to form a bundle, and there are no leaves below the tie. Very sad.

Salvia leucantha, like many perennial Salvias, needs to be pruned back to 6" above the ground after they are done flowering. The old growth will loose it leaves as the days shorten, and when the days start to lengthen, if you haven't pruned it back you'll get the type of odd growth pictured in the photo. Pruning all the old growth back allows sunlight to reach the base of the plant and cause all sorts of great new vibrant growth to occur.

This brings us to our second photo. This is a Salvia leucantha on the way to the bench at Pennsylvania Garden before pruning back. You can see the spent flowers as the wispy white twigs with barely any purple flowers left.
The third photo shows how after that old growth is cut back, brand new growth is revealed below. Repeating this cycle annually will ensure a healthy bushy plant and avoid embarrassment when home is featured in Dwell magazine (don't report me to their publishers).

Happy pruning!

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