Back in May, I wrote a post about three common methods used to prune blue mist spirea in spring. Let’s take a look at some plants that were cut using each of the three methods.
Be sure to check out this video about how to cut back or prune blue mist spirea in spring
Not cut back at all
Here’s what a blue mist spirea shrub looks like if you don’t cut it at all in the early spring. Notice the new leaves have begun to grow on the bottom two-thirds of the plant. However, last year’s dead flower spikes are still present. When the shrub blooms in July, the brown flower spikes will obscure this year’s flowers, making the shrub look neglected, sick, or simply odd.
If you have a Caryopteris plant that hasn’t been cut back yet, it’s not too late to take action. Use the second method (cut to new growth) in my previous post. Cut the dead portions off the plant and prune for symmetry before it flowers in July. You’re still likely to be rewarded with a pleasing set of blossoms.
Cut back partway
You can see from the picture why this is my least favorite method. The new growth emerges from the older stems, but the shrub doesn’t look that great with half of the old, thick stems left behind. When branches are cut at a certain length without a good horticultural reason for the cut, the result is irregular growth. In fact, the cut stubs become an eyesore.
It’s true that the new growth will eventually cover the cut stubs, but there are a few months in spring where the old stems are pretty noticeable. Plus, when the plants lose their leaves in fall, the less-than-attractive branches will be visible once again.
Cut back to new growth
This method is a pretty good option. On most of the blue mist spireas I’ve seen recently, the gardeners were successful at removing all of last year’s dead growth. They also shaped them for symmetry. These two accomplishments result in a nicely shaped shrub with green growth and attractive flowers when bloom time arrives. The take away message is that if your shrub has a nice branching pattern, pruning to new growth is an effective method to use.
Cut back to ground level
Back in May, I mentioned that this was my favorite method for blue mist spireas under 7,000 feet in elevation. I still believe this is true, but some of the plants I cut to ground level have been slow to recover. They’re smaller than normal at this time of year.
Because we had a cold spring, they’ve grown more slowly. So although the old stems are removed and the new growth is symmetrical and fresh, they’re small.
Are they going to bloom on time? Good question. I’ll keep an eye on them and see how the bloom time compares with shrubs that were pruned to the new growth. Stay tuned for the results next month!
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Hope you get a chance to relax today. 🙂