Pruning Evergreens and Boxwoods


Pruning evergreens and Boxwoods

I hope you have enjoyed some of our other articles on pruning (click the title below to view the other articles!)

Today’s topic is all about pruning your evergreens (shrubs and trees) and your boxwoods.

Evergreen shrubs and Boxwoods

A few of the varieties of evergreen shrubs require little or no pruning.

Some of these include Hetz Midget and Danica Arborvitae, Blue Star Junipers, and Dwarf Japanese Garden Junipers.

Most other evergreen shrubs will benefit from trimming. These would include plants such as Boxwoods, Yews, Mint Julep Junipers, Mugo Pines, upright evergreens, and many others. 

Generally trim once or twice a year in early spring and/or in early fall. Trim just to shape the plant. Do not do extreme pruning.

If evergreen plants have become very overgrown, you may have to trim severely to get them back in to a good shape. However, they may not look good for a season or two. Avoid this problem by trimming once or twice a year.

Evergreen Trees

Young evergreen trees can be trimmed to help shape them. Trimming will also cause them to be more full and dense.

Check the leader (top branch ) of the tree. If there are 2 main leaders, trim out the weakest of the 2. This will allow 1 strong leader to take over.

Generally the best time to trim evergreen trees is just after the new growth, or the “candle” has emerged (usually early June). Trim off about ½ of each candle. You may also trim as needed to shape the tree.

spring open house (1).jpg

What’s happening...

It’s been fun to include photos from around the nursery in our weekly email (click HERE if you’ve been missing out!). As I was typing it up last week, I remembered I created this blog to document what’s going on at the nursery and throughout the journey of business ownership.  I was looking for a diary per se.. and If you do a little searching, you can find blog posts from 5 years back…

I have been using this blog as a way to educate and get information about plants to you. Which is really important, but I also think a once a week blog posts where I diary what’s going on here at natural plus would be a fun.

So, here’s what’s been happening at Natural Plus!

Walters perennials are here and Pearl has found a new perching spot!  


Rain day tagging fun!


Be careful where you park around here! You might have to stay awhile! 


2 semis at the same time  


Unloading fun! 




My tulips are here! 

We hired a new mail boy!

We hired a new mail boy!

Some of the fun new glass pieces we got in!

Some of the fun new glass pieces we got in!

A sneak peak at a few of the new pottery pieces

A sneak peak at a few of the new pottery pieces

Don’t forget to sign up for weekly updates straight in your inbox!


Pruning Leafy Shrubs

Pruning Leafy Shrubs

Pruning Leafy Shrubs

Most people are nervous about pruning; they are afraid pruning will harm their plants.

In general pruning, is good for most plants. Think of it as “giving them a haircut”.  

Here are some general pruning tips:

Small leafy shrubs (under 4’ tall)

Small leafy shrubs such as spireas, potentillas, and barberries should be pruned in the spring before they leaf out.

How much to prune

Trim off about 1/3 of the plant and shape the plant. You may take off a little more or less to make the plant a nice shape.

If there are dead branches, trim them completely out.

You can check if a branch is dead by scratching the bark. If the bark is green under the scratched area, it is a healthy branch. If the scratched area is brown that branch is dead.

Second Light Pruning

Mid-summer, these plants may start looking shaggy and have brown spent blooms.  It is good to do a second light pruning at this time. Trim off old brown blooms and re-shape the plant. Doing this may actually cause the plant to bloom again.

Large leafy shrubs (over 4’ tall)

Larger leafy shrubs such as viburnums, ninebark, snowberries, and hydrangeas should be pruned in early spring before they leaf out. 

How much to prune

Guidelines vary from plant to plant but in general shear off about 1/4th of the plant and shape. Completely remove any dead canes or branches. On hydrangeas, trim off any spent blooms that remain on the plant.

Miscellaneous Leafy Shrubs: Forsythias, Rhododendrons, Lilacs

Forsythias are one of the first plants to bloom in the spring. We wait to trim until after blooms are finished.

Rhododendrons and lilacs set their blooms for the next year mid-summer in to fall. If you do early spring trimming you will trim off some of your blooms.  Wait to trim these 2 varieties of plants until after they have bloomed. They can usually be trimmed in mid-June.

How much to prune

Remove about 1/3 of the total plant as above. On lilacs, thin out excess canes if the plant seems very dense.

Fall Trimming:

If you want to get a jump start on spring, you can do fall trimming. Wait until a hard frost and leaves have dropped.

Don’t know what kind of plant you have? Call us!

Still feel nervous about pruning? Call us!

We’re here to help!



4 Reasons to Prune your Plants


PRUNING has been the topic of discussion around our house this spring, as we gave a presentation on pruning at the NIACC Garden Seminar. And, now is the time to think about it and do it! 

It’s a huge topic, but in the next few blog posts we are going to break it down and share some general information to help you figure it out. 

What is pruning? 

First of all, it’s good to understand what pruning is.  Pruning is the selective removal of certain parts of a plant.

What happens when you prune? 

When you prune a plant, you are creating a wound on the plant. That doesn’t mean pruning is a bad thing (it usually makes the plant healthier to prune), but keeping in mind that you are wounding the plant helps you determine when it’s a good time to prune or not. It’s also good to take care of your pruning cuts and select the right tools for the job at hand.

Plants heal their wounds by compartmentalizing or “walling off” the affected area. This healing process takes place much easier when the plant has the energy reserves to heal. 

Therefore, times when plants are expending a lot of energy (during spring when they are growing and leafing out, and during fall when they are storing nutrients in their roots and dropping leaves ARE NOT usually a good time prune. 

A general rule of thumb for most plants is late winter/early spring(February, March, and early April).

4 reasons to prune your plants: 

  1. Prune to promote plant health. If your plants have dead, dying, or rubbing branches, it’s good to remove them so they do not hinder the plants growth. It is also important to remove diseased or insect damaged parts of the plants. Do not wait until a good time to prune, remove these parts of the plants immediately. Pruning can promote growth in shrubs and trees, and even bring old neglected shrubs back to life!

  2. Prune to maintain the intended purpose of the plant. If you planted a row of boxwoods as a hedge, you most likely will want to prune those bushes to keep the hedge shape. Pruning also improves flower and fruit development to increase yield. It’s important to prune young shade trees in the first several years of their lives to improve their structural integrity as they mature. 

  3. Prune for plant appearance. Pruning can increase the aesthetics of a particular plant. Most of the time, the natural form is best and if you pick the right plant for the right location, you should be able to let the plant grow to its full potential. Take note of plant size when you are choosing your plant. 

  4. Protect People and Property. You want to prune anything that overhangs, or could be hazardous, especially branches that overhang sidewalks or could obstruct views at intersections.

As always we are here to help with any pruning questions you may have! 

In next week’s blog, we will talk about when to prune certain types of shrubs you may have in your landscape.



How to save your own zinnia seeds

CONFESSION: I have no idea what I’m doing.

Over the last 5 years, I have learned everything I know about plants from experience, trial and error, with lots of error in there-ha! When we bought the nursery, I had no background in botany, plants, or anything living really (except humans—I was in health care).

One thing that I’ve learned over the course of the 5 years is I love to garden and zinnias is one of my favorite things to plant. They bring a lot of butterflies to our yard and you can enjoy the blooms all season long. Plus, they make a beautiful cut flower.

Photo by Linda Hopper  Our Iowa photo - 1 of six finalists for Iowa Scenery photo contest

Photo by Linda Hopper

Our Iowa photo - 1 of six finalists for Iowa Scenery photo contest

Currently, we don’t sell seeds here at the nursery, but I have learned how to plant zinnias, grow them, and then harvest their seed heads for replanting the following spring.

Kristina Hand of Spruce Ave Flowers taught me how simple and easy it is to save the zinnia seeds.

It’s always a great winter day project to separate all of the seeds and bag them up so they are ready to plant as soon as the ground thaws.

This year, I decided to bag up my extra seeds and offer them to a few of you!

Do you save seeds? Tell me about your experiences!

Screen Shot 2019-03-25 at 4.29.53 PM.png