If you care about having any flowers on your spring blooming trees and shrubs, put down those pruners right now!
Look at the buds on this Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata.
I see these big fat flower buds every time I pull in or out of my driveway. They remind me that in not too many more months, I’ll have a lot of bloom again.
And these magnolia buds aren’t the only flower buds in the garden right now.
Look at this viburnum, Viburnum carlesii.
From afar, the deep red foliage reminds us that it is definitely fall. But when you get up close you see those big, beautiful flower buds that promise flowers in the spring.
The lilac is showing its flower buds, too, though without the fall color.
We’ve already discussed that most lilacs just don’t have good fall foliage color especially when compared to viburnums. It’s hard to beat some of the viburnums for fall color, but the lilacs definitely compete in the spring when it’s blooming time.
Some of the trees are getting ready for next year, too, with their spring flowering buds already set.Maples, like this red maple (Acer rubrum), don’t have the showiest spring blooms, but the keen observer will note that they flower quite early. When I see the maple buds swell up as early as late February, I know I’ve made it through yet another winter.
I also see a lot of buds on my Forsythia shrubs, which include ‘Gold Tide’, a dwarf forsythia, and Forsythia x intermedia ‘Show Off’, which I just planted this fall.
I may prune a few of these forsythia early, early in the spring to force into bloom inside, but these would be the only spring flowering shrubs I would prune before they bloom.
Remember, the buds are already formed for the spring flowers! If you get all rambunctious with your pruners now in the fall and cut back or prune these shrubs, or any other spring flowering trees or shrubs, you will be cutting off these blooms before they even have a chance to make it through the winter. You will ruin your spring show in the garden!
So leave them alone. Go cut on something else, like dead hostas or peonies, if you must prune something back yet this fall.
You’ll thank me for this advice once spring arrives and your spring flowering shrubs are all in full, glorious bloom. Yes, you will.