April’s Tips & Tricks for South Florida Landscapes

Hope all is well with my fellow gardeners. Spring is here, the beginning of our growing season. Although we are still experiencing drought conditions, it is important to walk through and inspect our landscapes for fertilization deficiencies, bug infestations and sufficient water. It is of the most utmost importance to resolve any of these problems now, so as our growing season truly kicks in our landscapes will flourish. This month’s Tips & Tricks we will be addressing how & when to prune plants or shrubs. Most plants & trees benefit when put on a pruning & maintenance schedule.

Tools for Pruning

The first thing we must consider is what is the best tool for the type of pruning we are attempting to accomplish. The most basic tools required for most pruning of plants & trees are: loppers, hand pruners, shears, hand & pole saws. It is also important to keep your tools sharp which will not only make the job easier but is also healthy for the plant or tree to be pruned.

Shrubs, Vines & Flowering Trees

Many flowering and fruiting plants prefer to be pruned while they are dormant, in late winter or early spring. Spring blooming trees & shrubs will start setting new buds as soon as the older buds have fallen off. These will need to be pruned shortly after flowering or risk pruning off the new buds with the old. Still there are others that need to be continuously pruned to remain vigorous and in flower. Pruning at the wrong time of year may result in less flowers but usually won’t harm it in the long run. The only exception to this is pruning to late in the fall or winter which would encourage tender new growth that will be killed back with colder winter weather.

Fruit Trees

Most fruit trees need to be pruned while they are dormant. You usually get one window to set buds for the next season’s crop, so particular care should be taken at this time. Fruit trees will show a steady decline unless they are pruned and tended to. There are several reasons for this, including: sucker branches direct energy away from fruiting branches, older branches are susceptible to diseases and pests, and the habit of fruiting plants & trees to only produce on branches of a certain age. While growing fruit trees for harvest a high priority should be given to pruning.

Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees do not need to be pruned. It is NOT recommended that you prune evergreens to keep the tree size in check. This will only stress & distort the tree shape by doing this. It is better to use the right plant right place theory in this instance. It is better to use a smaller type of evergreen then sizing down a larger tree.  The larger the tree the more labor intensive this type of pruning will be, so doing this while the tree is young is easier it will be.

Perennial Plants

The most labor intensive plants to prune are the non-woody perennials. The thought that you can plant perennials once and never have to do anything else is an incorrect notion. Most flowering perennial plants need regular pruning, shearing or deadheading to promote budding & future flowering. Which plants to prune, how much to prune, when to prune differs to each species of plants is something that we learn as we acquire experience gardening.

What to Plant in April

Heat tolerant annuals:  coleus, vinca, portulaca and caladium bulbs

Vegetables: eggplant, southern pea, bush beans, sweet potato, summer squash (monitor irrigation if weather is dry)

I hope the above helps you with tips to improve your landscaping. If you need help regarding your landscape, we at Garden Services are fully licensed & insured to handle all of your irrigation, landscaping, maintenance and tree service needs whether it’s a residential, commercial or homeowner association property .