March E-News from Viette's                              Volume 9: No. 3

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                         March/2013

Flowering QuinceAre you Ready

The spring gardening season is almost upon us!

The days are slowly getting longer and maybe just a little bit warmer.
It's time to get your gardens ready for a fresh new season. March is a great time to begin spring cleaning
and tackling some pruning chores.
Quick Links
Plant of the Month
Pink Flowering Quince Chaenomeles  
Flowering Quince  
Flowering quince is a beautiful spring blooming deciduous shrub that is relatively easy to grow but often not so easy to find! It has glorious flowers,
often single but sometimes double, that burst out along bare branches in the early spring before the new foliage begins to grow. The colorful flowers can be deep crimson, rose-red, coral, white, and various shades of pink and may appear singly or in clusters along the branches. Andre has many beautiful cultivars of flowering quince in his extensive display gardens. 
Flowering quince
Form and Culture
Flowering quince forms a broad-spreading mound of dense, spiny branches. The angular branch structure and delicate flowers provide an oriental look to the garden in the spring. The new foliage is a lovely bronze-red color which matures to a glossy green. Small apple-like greenish-yellow fruit ripens in the fall. The fruit has a wonderful fragrance and in many cases, can be used to make jelly or preserves.
epending on the species, these shrubs can be grown as a single specimen, as a hedge, and even espaliered against a wall. Flowering quince prefer full sun but will do well in part sun or even all day dappled sun. They are adaptable to most soil conditions.
A cluster of quince flowers along a branch
A cluster of quince flowers
along a branch

Flowering quince is really a one-season shrub. It is spectacular in the spring when in bloom but is rather insignificant in the other seasons. It is important to keep this shrub from becoming too dense and scraggly by pruning it each year after it finishes blooming in the spring. Quince flowers on old wood so no major pruning should be done during the dormant season. Some thinning can be done in February to provide branches for forcing indoors. Flowering quince is great for this purpose and can be forced into bloom very easily.
Quince branches in spring are covered with blossoms
Quince branches in spring are covered with blossoms
hinning after the flowers fade is the best way to keep the shrub from becoming a tangled mass of branches. This also improves the bloom for the following spring because it encourages the growth of new wood which will bloom profusely the next year. Cut some of the oldest stems back to the ground and remove any weak stems or suckers. Prune out crossing branches and some of the interior branches to keep the center more open.
A flowering quince in need of some thinning.
A flowering quince in need of
some thinning.
To rejuvenate a scraggly, overgrown shrub, you can cut the whole shrub back to within 6" of the ground. This should be done in winter when the shrub is dormant. You will sacrifice the blooms for that spring but you will be rewarded the following spring with an exceptional show of flowers. The other option is to remove a third of the oldest stems each winter for three years. That way you will always have some blooming wood and after three years you will basically have a brand new shrub that blooms well.

Remember, always use good quality tools and pruners when you prune your trees and shrubs!
isit our friends at  Gardeners Edge for a great selection of quality garden tools.

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Pruning for
Disease Control
Diplodia Tip Blight
Diplodia Tip Blight
Pruning is often the
best control method for certain plant diseases such as fire blight, tip blights, and twig canker.

tems or branches that show signs of disease should be cut back to healthy tissue. For partial branch removal, cut back to a healthy outward facing bud.
f the cut surface shows any sign of tissue damage, cut the branch back further. It is advisable to remove about 2"-6" of healthy tissue behind the diseased wood. 
ake your cuts at a 45� angle facing away from the bud so water will not drain towards it.
Avoid pruning diseased tissue during wet weather.

hen pruning diseased plant material, always take along a bucket containing a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Dip your shears or saw blade after pruning each tree or shrub to avoid spreading the disease as you move from plant to plant.
Remember - bleach can rust your tools.
Be sure to rinse them well and wipe them down when you are finished pruning.
Tip of the Month
Pruning Tips for Early Spring 


Pruning Basics - The Tools
High quality tools are not a luxury - they are a necessity! Quality pruning tools if properly cared for can last a lifetime. They not only last much longer than poor quality tools, but they perform better, remain sharper longer, and are less likely to cause unnecessary damage your plants.
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What can/should be Pruned NOW? 
Hydrangea 'Annabelle'  should be pruned in early spring.
Hydrangea 'Annabelle' should be pruned in early spring.
Trees and shrubs that flower in the summer and fall can be pruned in the late winter or spring because these produce flower buds on the new spring growth. Pruning will actually encourage vigorous new growth which will produce a more spectacular bloom. In general, early spring is not the time to prune spring blooming trees and shrubs because their flower buds are formed in late summer of the previous year. Pruning them in the spring would result in the removal of spring flowers.
ome exceptions to this pruning rule are: 
Heavy Pruning
Early spring, before growth begins, is the best time to do any major pruning of many shrubs. Even spring blooming shrubs can be pruned at this time if you need bring them back to a more manageable size or if they need to be rejuvenated.
Lilac pruning
The lilac at right was pruned hard to rejuvenate it and increase blooming.
You may sacrifice the spring bloom but in many cases, the flush of new, vigorous growth this causes will greatly improve the flowering in the coming years. Rejuvenation pruning of shrubs like hollies, boxwood, lilacs, rhododendron, azalea, quince, or yews, is a great alternative to removing and replacing them when they have become too overgrown or have stopped blooming well. It takes advantage of a well-established root system to produce a vigorous "new" shrub. This type of pruning is best done in March while the plants are still dormant.

Late winter when the trees are bare it is easy to evaluate your trees.
In early spring when the trees are bare it is easier to prune.

March is also a good time to assess your deciduous trees and shrubs and thin out some of the interior growth. With the absence of leaves, it is easier to see the branch structure and determine which branches should be removed to improve not only the symmetry of the plant but also its overall health. Remember that pruning affects the entire plant. By assessing your tree or shrub as a whole, you can make a better decision as to what to cut in order to achieve the best results.  

  • One exception to this spring pruning would be for any type of maple. The sap in maples begins to rise in late winter and pruning at this time will cause the tree to "bleed" heavily. For this reason, maples and other heavy bleeders should be pruned in summer.
  • We recommend only removing up to 20% of the live growth so that the crown is more open. This 20% recommendation does not include dead, diseased, and damaged wood which should be removed as soon as it is discovered.  
    • If you are unsure if a branch is alive or dead, scratch the wood with a pen knife. If there is green wood under the bark, the branch is alive.
  • Thinning of spring blooming trees and shrubs can usually be delayed until after they finish blooming. However if you do some thinning now, you can bring some of the cut branches indoors and force them into bloom for a beautiful flower arrangement. 

Watch some of Mark's great video pruning tips!   

More Tips on Pruning
Some Basic Pruning Techniques 
  • Always make a clean cut by using a sharp tool - a clean cut speeds callus formation and healing
  • Branch collarWhen removing a branch, make the cut close to the stem just outside the natural branch collar (usually you can see a ridge). The branch collar or bark ridge is an area/ridge at the base of a branch that contains cells that multiply quickly to close off and heal a wound. If you cut the branch inside this branch collar, you hinder the natural healing properties of the tree 
  • Cut a large branch in stages to avoid splitting or tearing. This takes the weight off and makes the final pruning cuts easier and safer. Limbs can weigh hundreds of pounds and can be a danger to someone standing beneath the limb. Once you have a shorter section to remove, use the three-cut method to remove the branch completely. The three-cut method prevents tearing or stripping of the bark as the final section is removed.
    Three-cut pruning method
    Three-cut pruning method
  • Cut at no greater than a 45-degree angle, less is better. This reduces surface area of the cut and speeds healing of the cut.
  • Do not cut too close to a bud. Since all cuts die back a little, the bud might die if the cut is too close
  • Prune to change direction of growth. Choose where you cut carefully in order to direct the new growth in an optimal direction. The direction of the new growth depends upon the potential direction of growth of the bud closest to the cut.
  • Pruning watersprouts
    Pruning water sprouts
    Prune to remove suckers
    (stems arising from the root stock of grafted trees) and water sprouts (vigorous stems that grow straight up parallel to the main stem). Water sprouts are surface attached to the bark and are subject to wind, snow, and ice damage. Suckers will eventually grow up and crowd the interior of the tree.
  • Remove crossed branches that could rub and cause injury to another branch.
  • Remove branches that grow inward and any that crowd the center of the tree. This type of pruning, called thinning, will open up the interior allowing more light penetration and greater air circulation which will reduce disease problems.
  • Remove branches that spoil the symmetry of the tree. Step back after each cut to reassess the shape and then plan your next cut.

Visit Gardeners Edge for a great selection  

of quality pruning tools plus a great discount  

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