Tag Archive for: Pruning. Flowering shrubs

Okay, for those of you who have read my ‘ramblings’ for any length of time, you are probably familiar with my personal crusade against the widespread pruning epidemic of creating balls, cupcakes, frisbees and other assorted shapes with flowering shrubs.

The fact that pruning flowering shrubs too often can lead to early plant death plus extra maintenance because it causes your shrubs to grow faster as well as causing them to require more water may not be reason enough for someone to stop.

Well, maybe the fact that repeated pruning (shearing) of flowering shrubs can leave them looking like this, may help them to finally stop….

widespread pruning epidemic

Not very pretty, is it?

This is what is left of three Desert Cassia (Senna nemophila) shrubs after they had been repeatedly pruned into round shapes using hedge-trimmers.

Well when flowering shrubs are repeatedly sheared with hedge trimmers, to create the much desired green ‘ball’ – it keeps the sunlight from penetrating inside of the shrub.  This leads to the death of some of the interior branches.  In addition, pruning repeatedly with hedge trimmers, does not get rid of any old branches and therefore new branches do not grow.

Now a healthy flowering Desert Cassia (Senna nemophila) looks much healthier and beautiful.

widespread pruning epidemic

The Desert Cassia, above, was planted by me in a large feature area located next to a golf course.  I would have the landscape crew prune it back to 2 ft. every spring, once it had finished flowering, which is when this particular shrub should be pruned.

I did not let the crew use hedge-trimmers, although they certainly wanted to.  But, I actually took the time to teach them the reasons why repeated shearing with hedge trimmers was a bad idea and then I made sure that they used loppers or hand pruners to prune them correctly.

Now, when flowering shrubs are pruned back severely to 1 – 2 ft. – they don’t look pretty.  In fact, they look like a bunch of ‘stick’s sticking up out of the ground.  But this stage only lasts a few weeks.

But, what happens is that the pruning stimulates the formation of new growth, which produces more leaves and flowers then if you just continued pruning off the top inch or so.  

widespread pruning epidemic

I would much rather see a flowering shrub with flowers on it, wouldn’t you?

Now, if you haven’t gotten enough of my ‘preaching’ against over-pruning, you can read more at Flowering Shrubs Aren’t Meant to be Cupcakes

So, do you want to stop over-pruning your shrubs?

How do you start?

Well, it is best to start by severely pruning your shrubs –


I will work on a list of the most popular shrubs that grow in the low & high desert and give you a timeline in my next post 🙂

What comes to mind when you think of the ‘perfect’ cupcake?  For me, I think of a little bit of cake underneath tons of frosting 😉

Or if you are like my husband, decorated cupcakes are your favorite…

Decorated Cupcakes

Decorated Cupcakes

He especially likes the ones with edible toppings…

Decorated Cupcakes

Which is probably why that is usually the kind of cupcake that I make.

Decorated Cupcakes

I think what often comes to mind when you mention the word ‘cupcake’ to some homeowners and most landscapers is a perfectly shaped, flowering shrub.

I came upon one of these ‘perfect’ cupcakes the other day, as I was finishing up a consultation.  

Texas Sage shrub

What do you think?

Most of the flower buds have been pruned off and the remaining foliage is so dense that it does not show light through to the interior of this Texas Sage shrub.

Eventually, there will be large dead areas and this shrub will decline and die.

Thankfully, this shrub did not belong to my client (it was her neighbor’s).

You can read much more about this type of pruning and why it should not be done by reading my post, Flowering Shrubs Aren’t Meant to be Cupcakes, Poodles and Frisbees.

Thankfully, my client was not the one who owned this particular shrub.  She actually loves the natural shape of shrubs. 


Please read my latest Birds & Blooms blog post…..

Stormy Weather and Ruffled Feathers