Five Important Guidelines for Pruning Bushes

Pruning bushes is like many other gardening skills, you get to learn the basic cuts and then you apply them.

The first step is to understand the two basic cuts and what they do for and to your plant.

Once you understand these, then you can prune darn near anything in your shrub garden by following a few simple rules.

Second Guideline: What Shrubs To Prune In The Spring

If the shrub blooms in the early spring (e.g. lilacs) then the buds are formed during the summer. The buds then overwinter on the branch coming alive in the spring.

This means we prune spring blooming plants right after they have finished blooming or within a few weeks of the blooms finishing.

Note: You can prune a spring blooming shrub in the winter but understand you’ll be removing flower buds.

Third Guideline: What Plants To Prune In The Fall

If the shrub blooms in summer or fall, it is blooming on buds it produced in the same growing season. So we prune those shrubs in the winter when the plant is dormant.

Those are the two major rules for pruning shrubs. (Blooms in the spring, prune it right after blooming. Blooms in summer/fall, prune in winter while it is dormant)
As an extra hint, you do want to feed your woody plants in the fall and here’s the scoop on this.

Fourth Guide: What Do You Want To Do With Your Shrub

You’ve watched the video so you know the two kinds of cuts and what they do. You know that a thinning cut is going to remove growth and a heading cut thicken up growth.

The question then is what do you want to do with your shrub? Open it up so more light gets into it? Thicken it up so more blooms are produced?

It’s impossible for any article to describe each condition for pruning bushes in every garden, for every plant.

The deal is you have to know whether you want to thicken or thin.

Fifth Guide: Step By Step Directions

The old hard and fast guidelines we all follow for pruning shrubs are:

  • Remove all dead branches first.
  • Remove all really thin and weak branches (in other words, at every part of the shrub there will be average sized branches or shoots and weaker ones. Remove the weaker ones.
  • Remove all crossing branches (those that are rubbing the bark off each other -remove the weaker or the one going inward toward the center of the plant)

Those three suggestions will help keep your shrub looking good every spring.


You’re going to be hesitant about pruning bushes the first few times you try. Simply remember the two kinds of cuts and every time you’re about to remove wood, ask if you’re trying to thin out the growth or increase the growth.

Check these options out for more gardening information that works

How To Keep Shasta Daisies In Bloom All Summer

Shasta daisies are one of the all-time favourite garden perennials, and rightly so.

This plant is easy enough to grow for a beginner yet important enough in garden design that experts include them in many perennial borders. Interestingly enough, the shasta daisy ‘Becky’ has been named Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association so we will all be seeing a lot of ‘Becky’.

Growing Shasta Daisies

To begin with, ‘Becky’ and her cousins are reliably hardy from zone 4 through 9. We can grow shasta daisies almost anywhere and as long as we give them full sunshine or very light morning shade, they will thrive.
The plant will strut its stuff best in a good garden soil; this means a well-drained soil but one where moisture is present and organic matter is excellent. Mind you, it will survive in your basic garden soil too (who has that perfect garden soil the books all ask us to have?) but it doesn’t like clay soils

Shasta daisies will live for the summer in clay soils but will tend to die over the winter in heavier, wetter soils

‘Becky’ blooms for an extended time and if you deadhead the blossoms, it will produce new ones that further extend the blooming time. Deadheading means to cut off the flower and stem as it starts to fade and die but before it has a chance to set seed.
Deadheading is a basic gardening skill and most annuals and daisy family plants will bloom heavier and for longer periods if they are regularly deadheaded.

Why Becky?

Becky is a plant with a bit of a history because we know that Jim and Becky Stewart of Atlanta, Georgia got a plant from their neighbour Mary Ann Gatlin who in turn received it from Mary Ann’s mother, Ida Mae. Now Ida Mae had a florist business and sold ‘Becky’ as a florist cut flower (hint: Becky makes a great summer bouquet) and as a garden plant. Several other nurseries picked up the plant and it was also grown as ‘Ida Mae’ and ‘Ryan’s Daisy’ (named after nurseryman Ryan Gainey who also got it from Ida Mae) but it became ‘Becky’ to the plant world when Wayside Gardens adopted the name in their catalog and started making the plant available across North America

While you may be confused about the name of this shasta daisy, ‘Becky’ makes an excellent specimen plant with its forty-inch tall flower stems in the garden. When massed in large numbers it provides a spectacular show of brilliant white flowers (with a yellow centre.

Shasta daisies and their mid-summer blooms make them a backbone plant for the perennial garden and other plants that will go well with it include: Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ or Veronica ‘Royal Candles’. I note that Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ blooms almost all summer right along with Becky so the combination will last a long time

Perovskia with its grey foliage and blue flowers is also a good combination next to ‘Becky’

You might try planting a brilliant red annual such as salvia in front of ‘Becky’ to go for a red-white combination that will be quite dynamic in the garden.

Dead Centers

This is quite common on plants that are two years or more old. Simply dig up the plant, remove the dead center section and replant the babies from around the cente


Many of you would like to know how to get extra plants once you purchase your first hybrid ‘Becky’ and have grown it for a season.
The good news is that this plant will root easily from a soft or tip cutting (one that easily bends) or it can be divided easily in the spring or fall to give extra plants.

I divide it in the spring in my garden (I hope to plant at least one plant this summer as a trial) as then I could see what was alive or dead. You will see some dying out in the centre of old plants and all you have to do is dig up the entire plant, throw away the dead centre and replant the babies from around the edges. As long as they have a bit of root on them, they will be fine and you’ll have a garden full in two seasons. You’ll get more detailed plant propagation tips here.

And for the lover of plant names, ‘Becky’ is actually a Leucanthemum in the Superbum group. Shasta daisies used to be members of the Chrysanthemum family but were moved over to the Leucanthemum in a general name switch a few years ago.

What is interesting is that the Shasta was first bred by that interesting plantsman Luther Burbank in 1890. He named it “Shasta” because he apparently thought the petals were as white as the snow on top of Mount Shasta in California.

Whatever the plants history or name, ‘Becky’ is one of the great perennial flowers and beginner and garden expert alike will enjoy the flowers produced by this new award winning perennial.

Resources to Find Material Mentioned on This Page

Seeds and plants for Shasta daisies
All of Doug’s Ebooks including perennial gardening ones

Click here for more posts about full sun perennial flowers


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