Now is the time to prune spring blooming shrubs - Albuquerque Journal

Now is the time to prune spring blooming shrubs

Q. I haven’t pruned either my quince or forsythia shrubs this year. Do I still have time or is it too late? – L.B., Los Lunas

Tracey FitzgibbonA. Since both types of the shrubs you mention are spring bloomers, I’m hoping you remember the rhyme I’ve taught often, “prune after the bloom.”

I’m confident that they are both finished flowering for you, so yes, if you need to prune these guys, you need to get it done soon. I mean very soon.

Spring bloomers set next spring’s bloom on new growth. If you wait too long into the season, you’ll cut off all of this year’s growth, and in turn, remove next year’s blooms.

Get out there and cut back your spring bloomers now, but promise you won’t drag out the process. Get it done.

After the pruning give everyone a deep drink of water and a fertilization to encourage that needed new growth. If either of your shrubs is really thick, you could remove several of the oldest, more internal canes so the plants get better airflow, keeping them even healthier.

Having a really crowded multi-cane shrub is sometimes asking for trouble. Mites and aphids will thank you for offering a comfy protected spot to live.

So yes, if you need or want to prune any spring blooming shrubs you have that are finished with giving you this year’s bloom, prune them now.

Q. We inherited a home that has a Bermuda grass lawn. Neither of us has ever had a lawn with this type of grass and need to know what, if anything we should be doing for it this time of year. Thanks! – L.L., Albuquerque

A. First, I want to explain that the Bermuda lawn you’ve inherited is classified as being a warm season grass. That means, for the most part, it’ll be green and actively growing during the hot parts of the year.

So here’s what I’ll suggest. If the lawn has sat “idle” for a year or more, you get out there with a stiff-tined rake and briskly rake the lawn to remove any matted old growth. I’m not saying you’ll want to rake the heck out of it, but you do want to fluff it up and remove the “excess” thatch that will come up with a good raking.

Next, you’ll want to offer the lawn a deep drink of water. Remember that the city does have water suggestions in effect now, so be mindful of when and how you water.

As soon as that initial watering is completed, apply a lawn fertilizer that is fairly high in its nitrogen content. How do you determine the proper fertilizer using the numbers? Easy. There will be three numbers on a bag of fertilizer. Let’s say you find a lawn food that wears the figures 28-15-3. The first number of that calculation is the nitrogen. It’s used by plant life to grow healthy green upwards growth.

The second number is the phosphorus content of the fertilizer. Phosphorus is used mainly for healthy root development. The third number is potassium content. Potassium is needed so the plants are able to pick up and use the other minerals. Keeps their insides healthy, so to speak.

Since you want to wake up and feed a lawn, you need a fertilizer that has a high first number in that calculation. Most packaged lawn foods will automatically have a high nitrogen content. That’s what you want.

Apply the fertilizer to label suggestions and give it a quick two to three minute watering to settle it on the lawn. With the advent of the heat this month and by fertilizing and offering water weekly, your Bermuda lawn should green up rather quickly.

Also, since Bermuda (in theory) uses less water than a lot of other grasses, you shouldn’t have to water nearly as often.

So rake thoroughly first, water the area, fertilize, water a bit to settle the food and then enjoy the green you’ll soon be rewarded with.

Happy Diggin’ In!

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to


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