Each week, Susan Richards of New North Greenhouses answers your gardening questions. Have questions about your gardening needs? Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tracey: Is this the time to prune back my shrubs that have finished flowering?
No, September isn't a good pruning time. We are still have warm weather so pruning may stimulate new growth. You want the buds that have developed on your shrubs to stay dormant until the spring.
Late March or early April is the optimum pruning time for most deciduous shrubs. That is right before new growth begins. If you feel that long growth on shrubs may be damaged by winter snow load, prune back those shrubs in late October or November, once cold weather has come to stay.
Lilacs, forsythias, rhododendrons and azaleas are some exceptions to the above pruning advice. Flower buds for next year have already formed. They are pruned immediately after blooming.
Ann: I'm looking for some fall colour in a partly shaded perennial garden. What can I plant?
In my garden that has the same light condition as yours, I have a few things blooming: anemone, Rudbeckia daisy, fall sedum and cimicifuga. I also have Toad Lilies in bud.
In that same garden I planted a compact Hummingbird Clethra shrub. It has white, very fragrant flowers right now.
Gerry: I have to move a small cedar shrub to make way for an extension we are building on our deck. I won't be able to replant it until the project is done. How should I do that?
Be sure to water the ground well before you dig out the shrub. Have a large container with drainage holes on had to pop it into or look for an area in one of your shadier gardens to temporarily plant it.
Choose a cool, overcast day to move the cedar. If sunny days are you only option, move it in early morning or the evening. Get as large a root ball as possible when you dig it up. Once moved, water it well and be sure to keep the soil moist at all times.
When you are ready to replant the shrub, amend the soil with compost to give it a good home and use transplanting fertilizer to help it develop new roots. Again, keep it watered until the ground freezes.