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  • Pruning Trees and Shrubs in the Fall



    Pruning in August can stimulate new growth that is less hardy during the winter.  But what about pruning at this time of year?  Woody plants move sugars and other materials from the leaves to storage places in the woody portions of the plant just prior to leaf fall and we would like to maximize those stored energy reserves.  Even pruning later in the fall can cause a problem by reducing the cold hardiness of woody plants.  Dr. Rich Marini at Penn State Extension has written , “Based on everything that has been published we can conclude that woody plants do not attain maximum cold hardiness when they are pruned in the fall. Trees are affected more by heavy pruning than light pruning.”  However, this does not mean that woody plants pruned in the fall will necessarily suffer winter damage.  In most cases, I think you can get away with the old adage of “prune whenever your pruners are sharp.”  However, damage can occur if we have a sharp drop in temperature before plants are completely hardened off.  Also, marginally hardy plants are more susceptible to winter damage, especially if pruned in the fall.  Though light pruning and removal of dead wood are fine this time of year, you may want to delay severe pruning until spring.

    Consider pruning to be “light” if 10% of less of the plant is removed. Dead wood does not count in this calculation.  Keep in mind that even light pruning of spring-blooming shrubs such as lilac and forsythia will reduce flowers for next year. We normally recommend that spring-bloomers be pruned after flowering.

    Shrubs differ in how severely they can be cutback. Junipers do not break bud from within the plant and therefore should be trimmed lightly if you wish to keep the full shape. Overgrown junipers should be removed. On the other hand, there are certain shrubs that can be pruned back severely during the spring. Rejuvenation is the most severe type of pruning and may be used on multi-stem shrubs that have become too large with too many old branches to justify saving the younger canes. All stems are cut back to 3- to 5-inch stubs. This works well for spirea, forsythia, pyracantha, ninebark, Russian almond, sweet mock orange, shrub roses, and flowering quince. Just remember that spring is the correct time to do this, not now.

    (Ward Upham)

  • Gardeners’ Gathering Tour June 21st

    Thursday, June 21, 2018 Tour of KC Water Swope Campus Green Infrastructure Tour of KC Water’s Swope Campus Infrastructure Thursday, June 21, 2018 Rain gardens, bioswales, native plantings, permeable pavers—are you interested in these gardening/water...

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  • Become a Master Gardener!

    Master Gardeners and Garden ‘N Grow Participants It is time to steer our friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, and any other people you know who are interested in gardening to the Master Gardener Volunteer Training! We are accepting applications...

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  • Master Gardeners of Greater KC Plant Sale News!!

    Spring is here, or so the calendar says! Since the weather has been so chilly, we are getting a slow start on our dig and divide. However, that is only a part of our annual plant sale. The plants that everyone looks forward to are the showy annuals...

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  • Gardeners Gathering Thursday, April 19, 2018

    The Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City present ‘16 Together’, by Roy Diblik Perennial plant expert, grower, designer, speaker and author Roy Diblik is a recognized Perennial plant expert, grower, designer, speaker and author. Roy will discuss...

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  • Phenology and potential implications of climate change

    How do you know when spring has begun? Is it the flow of maple sap? The first crocuses coming up through the snow? Ice out on local lakes? The arrival of the first red-winged blackbirds? The clamor of peepers? Apple trees and/or lilacs blooming? Merriam-Webster...

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  • Hydrangea: The chameleon of plants

    From the Easter season through Mother's Day, hydrangea is one of the most sought-after flowering plants from retail florists and garden centers alike. It's huge, globe-like clusters of blooms impart a regal elegance that is uncommon among potted plants....

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  • What You Need To Know About Seed Starting Containers

      Starting seeds can be a truly rewarding practice for the home gardener, but it does require some basic know-how and the right materials. If you’re new to growing plants from seed, it’s important to understand that not all products or DIY...

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  • Use a Planting Calendar

      If you start vegetable plants indoors, it is often helpful to list seeding dates on a calendar so that plants are ready for transplanting at the proper time. To do this, choose your transplant date and count back the number of weeks necessary to...

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  • Tomato Trials

    It is that time of year where we start thinking about our summer gardens!! ​Each year we have our Master Gardeners plant and rate a number of tomato varieties.  We also give a set to Tom Fowler with the University of Missouri Extension Service. ...

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  • Spring Gardening Seminar!

    Come and spend a day with us!  We are offering an all day educational event with a variety of presentations from edible flowers to everything you wanted to know about no sow gardening. $54.00 including lunch. The  keynote speaker is Jim Long, the founder...

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University of Missouri Extension Master Gardener Program