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by Kathie Hoyer – February 18, 2021


Even though we’ve recently received a huge snow-dump, there are plenty of Bowood customers ready for spring. Evidence: the great turnout for yesterday’s virtual class on Late Winter Pruning, everyone ready to get started on this task that begins our gardening season. Yes, it is beginning (!) and winter moving (slowly) towards spring is the signal for cutting back certain summer-flowering shrubs and ornamental grasses. One of the main reasons for this class is to tackle the question “What is late winter?” The confusion about this particular garden term is certainly appropriate for anyone who has lived in St. Louis even a few years. No two years seem to unfurl spring in quite the same way!

Late winter pruning for this group of summer-blooming shrubs should be timed to take place before dormancy ends. As I told my listeners, that is a bit like saying “take your cake out of the oven before it burns.” So, to go out on a limb here, this means that late winter pruning is done from late February into mid-March – it is very rare for dormancy to come to an end before the first week of March in St. Louis. The clearest indication for timing your pruning chores, generally speaking, is when leaf buds begin to swell before opening. This means you might need to hone your observation skills. Cutting back your ornamental grasses is a little bit easier, that’s definitely an early March task – unless, of course, you can’t find the base of your clump of Miscanthus because it’s covered by drifts of snow!

Late Winter Pruning was the first in this year’s series of Garden Maintenance classes. For more information on this topic, see our Bowood Tip Sheet,  Garden Maintenance I – Late Winter Pruning

Stay connected for upcoming classes on:
Waking Up Your Garden for Spring; Time for the Chelsea Chop; Dividing and Transplanting Perennials; and Putting Your Garden to Bed for the Winter.