My neighbor walked over yesterday as I was weeding my front border to ask about a few of her plants she keeps in containers. She has beautiful pots and striking blooms but they are ALL in containers. I know there's nothing wrong with leaving your plants in containers but I just have this thing about a landscape consisting of only containers and half dead plants. The reason she walked over, which she rarely does, was to ask about a hydrangea she was hiding in a corner near her front door. By her eye it seemed to be doing well... except the bloom fell off 2 days after she bought it. She did mention that she cut the dead flower off and remove it but how she did it is the reason for this post today. Just pulling off the wilted flower (in this case and many others) does not always do your sprouting wonders justice.
Pruning is essential for the survival and integrity of many many types of plants. From Oak trees to Crepe Myrtles and from Hydrangeas to Coleus pruning (or dead heading depending on the type) is very important to the life cycle of these plants. Of course they aren't all done in the same way... you would cut your finger nails the same way you cut your hair... right?
Let's talk a little about pruning your blooming beauties. Let's say you have a beautiful tri colored Coleus, like the one above. I've been seeing it pop up more in the last few years in my area. Mostly in a commercial setting where little to no maintenance is needed.... and then it gets picked up by the consumer. So now it's at your house and it's tall and thin with broad leaves near the base. It doesn't look anything like the huge bush you saw and fell in love with at the nursery or that office building down the street. What gives? And now it's blooming?? But that's not what you wanted right... well that's where pruning comes in. Coleus is a great little specimen who even love people with a light brown thumb. They do quite well in the sun but rather the shade to show off their brighter colors and they don't mind too much if they get a little dry.
If you remember a few quick tips you can have a nice full Coleus just like the one in the nursery. Pinching off the top 2 sections of the coleus before it grows a bud will produce 2 more branches. Doing this every time a new branch has 5 or more sections will keep your Coleus growing and getting quite fat. If you decide to let these go all the way to bloom you will more than likely get no new growth. There are a few herbs as well that will have this same growth pattern. Just follow the same tips as those we just went over and you'll have more than enough to go around.
This is exactly the type of pruning I did today with my neighbor's Hydrangea. I'm sure she'll come over when she has new blooms for me to see. I really do love when people ask for my help with their yards or gardens. Oh how I miss being in school and really do plan on going back in the next few years....... *sigh* I'd love to finish my degree. I'm not sure what I'd do with it now that I'm home with my 3 little ones. I guess I just want to say I have the degree. Just a little justification for myself, the lifetime student.