Pruning Tips from a Master Horticulturist

“Your plants will forgive you for pruning hard. They’ll come back and do much better for you.”

These were words of advice from Mary Jo Bridge Palmer, the owner and retail manager at Sam Bridge Nursery and Greenhouses LLC, a full-service garden center in Greenwich, CT, who spoke to GCI members and guests.

Among Mary Jo’s expert tips:

• There are three reasons to prune: 1. to remove dead or broken branches; 2. to control height; 3. to improve flowering.

• In late fall, prune the plants that flower in the summer and fall. The list includes butterfly bush, trumpet vine, oak leaf and P.G. hydrangea, magnolias, hybrid tea roses, and summer-flowering spirea.

• Go inside overgrown shrubs and thin the oldest branches out to let in light and air.

• Use a bypass pruner with a rotating head.

• Use Wilt-Pruf on broadleaf evergreens in November and again in January or February.

• Prune spring-flowering shrubs right after flowering. Don’t be afraid to prune lilacs to the ground in spring and nip other deciduous shrubs to give them shape.

• Keep a journal — jot down what works and what doesn’t.

Mary Jo earned a Professional Floriculture certificate from the Ratcliff Hicks School of Agriculture at the University of Connecticut. She has taught for Greenwich Continuing Education and the New York Botanical Garden. A former president of the Westchester and Fairfield Horticultural Society, she is on the board of the Perennial Plant Association and serves on the Greenwich Architectural Review Board. She received the Garden Club of America’s “Significant Contribution to Horticulture” award in 1995 “in recognition of the knowledge and love of horticulture she shares most generously with all.

The event, like many monthly programs of the Garden Club of Irvington, was free and open to the public. Watch this space for announcements of future events.

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Filed under Horticulture, Irvington Garden Club Events, Irvington NY, Rivertowns Westchester NY

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