All spring we have been advising you not to prune out branches without leaves yet. After last October’s flash freeze and this March’s freeze of the new leaves, it was important to give shrubs, trees and roses time for a second set of leaves to come out before removing wood. By now we should be seeing new green leaves forming if the wood is still alive.
So now we can prune away any branches that are not leafing out. Do cut back to a leafed-out branch or sprout; don’t leave a stub. Some evergreens may still be looking very brown. Look closely to see if tiny leaves are forming amongst the brown ones. Use a broom or gloved-hand to brush away dead needles. If you start removing branches from a conifer it may never look good again, so if you see any green, give it a chance.
Some shrubs and trees have died entirely and will just have to be removed. Our spring temperature swings can really be hard on plants. If we fertilize with an organic fertilizer in September, we can give the trees and shrubs the nutrition they need to build up their energy reserves to help them recover from shocking conditions. These reserves also help to develop fruit and flower buds for the next year.
Plants that are still struggling to grow new leaves can be helped. We have a yucca extract product with the horrible name of ‘Sledge Hammer’ that breaks down the surface tension of water, helping water to be absorbed into the ground, the roots and into the cells of plants. Add a teaspoon of this yucca extract to a gallon of compost tea and/or a gallon of Age Old ‘Grow’ or Neptune’s Harvest liquid organic fertilizer (2 tablespoons per gallon of water). This will supply nutrients to help renew a stressed plant.