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Rejuvenating: A Fresh Start for Old Favorites

Although it is a cold and barren winter wonderland still, there is a tiny bit of white light at the end
of the tunnel for those of you who simply can not wait until spring has fully sprung…rejuvenative
pruning. Now is the perfect time to do this so you can actually see what you are doing. March is
a tricky month however because it can be warm and wonderful one minute, and cold and
blustering the next. I recommend doing this near the end of the month when the weather tends to
be more stable and before your shrubs start to bud out. Rejuvenating is a technique that enables
one to completely restore a shrub’s vigor and attractiveness in the landscape. Not all shrubs can
handle this drastic measure, but those that can, become new, improved and better than ever.

Shrubs that really benefit from this process are ones that tend to spread by stolons, (roots that
spread underground and arbitrarily send up new shoots). Shrubs that respond well to this method
are: forsythia, lilac, weigela, honeysuckle, spirea and hydrangea. Spring blooming shrubs will have
fewer blooms if pruned in early spring because the buds have been formed the previous year.
There are two methods of rejuvenating; one simply takes longer than the other but both have the
same result: a new, healthy shrub. Every shrub that has been placed in the landscape will need
attention at some point or another, it is best to start a pruning program when your landscape is
installed to avoid having to eventually pull it out and replace it.


FIRST TECHNIQUE: Extensive rejuvenation
This is for severely damaged shrubs and is the most drastic of the pruning techniques.

  • Choose an appropriate shrub that is old and overgrown.
      
  • Remove all but 6-10 inches at the crown of the shrub.
      
  • In mid-summer, remove half of the new canes by cutting down to the lowest “OUT FACING” buds to allow air flow and de-crease crowding in the new re-growth.

Extensive Rejuvenation

SECOND TECHNIQUE: Renewal
This technique is for the light at heart that want little noticed in the process.

  • First year- remove 1/3 of the oldest and damaged wood.
     
  • Second year- remove ½ of the remaining oldest wood left from previous year.
     
  • Third year- remove remaining oldest wood.
             
     A B C D

Although this may look like an easy task, please keep in mind that skill and proper procedure will ensure the upmost health and success of your shrubs. Have a professional rejuvenate you shrubs for you if you are at all unsure. Your horticulturalist will be able to notify you if your shrubs require this service and which technique will be best suited to your needs.

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