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Flowering Shrubs

March 2014


I need to divide hosta plants.  When and how should I do so? Do I trim my Rose of Sharon and do I need to eliminate some of the plants that number 14 in a row (line) that provide privacy?

AnswerAs soon as you see life beginning in your hosta, you can start dividing. Dig up the clump and separate. Try to leave at least two to three crowns per division. A crown is a cluster of leaves that comes from the base. If you over-divide, and plant each crown individually, you won’t have a nice full plant this growing season.  As to your Rose of Sharon, or althea, if you want to manage plant height, now is the time to prune them. They bloom on the new growth, so pruning needs to be accomplished before they are kicking into full foliage.  You do not mention how much spacing is between the 14 plants. If they have enough room to grow unhindered from competition, then there is no reason to thin them. If they aren’t blooming well because they are too crowded, you may want to remove a few plants to allow the full potential of the remaining plants to come through. 

December 2012

QuestionI need some advice on a situation with some Camellia bushes that were damaged by fire from a house that burned close to them in Eudora. They were burned on one side pretty badly and I pruned some of this damage off. As workers came in to clean up the site, they took it upon themselves to trim them severely.....these are 60-70 year old camellias and they are now about 3 feet in height. With winter approaching, what is your suggestion to salvage these lovely first thought is to cut them to the ground and put pine straw on top of them.....but don't know if that is the best solution....Please help.


AnswerI think they have been cut enough for now. I would put some extra mulch around them if the weather gets really cold this winter—because they are now much more exposed and more susceptible to winter damage. I have found camellias to be pretty tough plants—especially in south Arkansas. As old as they are, they have a well established root system and once we get back into a growing season, I think they will begin to grow. It will take time to get them to a decent size again, but be patient, water and lightly fertilize, and they should rebound.

October 2012

QuestionI have a lovely lavender bush that has been growing and looking very healthy until recently and now parts of it look like "dried lavender." I cut off the dried looking part, but the problem seems to be spreading. Do you have any guesses as to what is causing this and how to fix it before the whole plant is gone?


AnswerLavender is one of those plants that thrives in drier seasons, and struggles in damp, hot and humid ones, especially if the drainage isn’t great or if you have a sprinkler system which hits it regularly. Raised beds and rocky, poor soils tend to be better than highly amended, rich sites. Cut out the damaged parts and get it through the winter. Then prune it back by 1/3 to 1/2 before new growth kicks in next spring and see what happens. It tends to do better in poor soils which are not heavily fertilized or watered.

September 2012

QuestionWe have several loropetalums and have thus far have only pruned them when animals have broken limbs. We like the wild, natural look of the bushes, but they are getting a bit out of hand. Can you please give us tips on when and how much to prune them? We do not want to risk pruning at the wrong time and hindering flower production.


AnswerLoropetalums are beginning to have some blooms on them right now, but their main bloom period is early spring. Immediately after bloom is when they should be pruned, if needed. Some varieties can get quite large. Many of the early varieties that were supposed to get no larger than 4-5 feet, are small trees now, so prune heavily if they are overgrown. You can also move them to an area where they can grow large, and opt for new varieties that are smaller at maturity.


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