Apr 082011


a vase of purple azaleas

Purple Azaleas

Cut flowers grace a home. And you can get some spectacular blossoms for free just by doing your annual pruning a bit early.

Many spring-flowering shrubs are pruned after blooming. The annual trimming keeps the bushes from getting leggy. Shrubs like spring-flowering azaleas, bridal wreath (Spirea x vanhouttei), forsythia, lilacs, mock-orange, rhododendron and weigela are pruned soon after flowering.

But you can start your pruning while they are still blooming and use the pruned branches for spectacular bouquets. Before you take your first cut, study the bush for a while and think how you would like it to look. I prefer a natural-looking shape. It fits my cottage garden landscape (also known as the jungle). Is the shrub getting too tall? Is it crowding its neighbors? Are there stray branches that look out of place? Choose which branches you would like to prune and choose those for your bouquet.

Then finish the pruning after the shrub has finished blooming. Prune a few of the oldest, largest stems. Cut them close to the ground to stimulate new growth. Then trim the rest of the bush to get the look you desire.

Branches from shrubs and trees are known as “woodies” in the cut flower trade. You can use them for artistic arrangements or just let them fall naturally (or almost naturally) in a vase.

If you have flowering bushes landscaping your home, experiment with cutting some branches. Enjoy their blossoms inside as well as outside.