Pruning Perennials For Better ShapeU of I Extension News – June 22, 2016

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The time between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is ideal for pruning many garden perennials, providing more branching and even more flowering in the fall. Overall, proper pruning can result in shapelier and more floriferous perennials with blooms that may be smaller in size, but more numerous.

“Gardeners can think of late spring/early summer pruning as pre-emptive because it takes place before a perennial achieves its full potential growth and before bloom,” notes University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Candice Miller. “This type of pruning is not technically necessary to the survival of our perennials, but instead becomes more of an art, allowing the gardener to be creative in the garden.”

Mid- and late summer perennials that could benefit from early pre-flowering pruning include chrysanthemums, “Autumn Joy” sedum, monarda, or New England aster. It’s common in many years for these perennials to flop open in the center later in the season, making them rather unsightly. A pre-emptive pruning earlier in the season could prevent this.

“I often do this on the ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum and asters in my garden, and it works wonders,” Miller says. “Knowing when to prune is the most critical part.”

Mid- to late summer bloomers could be pruned until early summer.

“Just keep in mind that you are manipulating the plant and can expect a slightly later bloom time in most cases,” notes Miller.

The amount to cut off depends on the vigor of the perennial. On a more vigorous perennial, it might mean cutting back one-half to two-thirds of the foliage. On a less vigorous plant, no more than one-third of the foliage should be pruned off at a time. Cuts should be made back to a lateral flower, bud, or leaf so that the new growth will hide those cuts quickly.

The intended goal in pre-emptive pruning is to cut back those perennials before flowering for height control, and to stagger or delay bloom time. Pruning is a great way to control when a plant will bloom.

“If you’ve never done this practice before in your garden, do some experimenting this season and see what results,” Miller encourages. “Try pruning a portion of the plant and see what happens. Perennials are resilient, and through trial and error, you might discover that you can create a much more appealing plant with a little manipulation.”

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Pruning Perennials For Better Shape

“When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors”

Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 19-25

“When thunder roars, go indoors” is more than a catchy phrase about lightning safety. It’s a reminder that you’re at risk of being struck by lightning if you’re outdoors and can hear thunder. That’s the message the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the National Weather Service (NWS) will promote during Lightning Safety Awareness Week June 19-22.

“We all enjoy being outdoors on beautiful summer days,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “But don’t push your luck when thunderstorms are in the area.”

According to the NWS, 27 people were killed by lightning in 2015.

“To date, all of the lightning fatalities in the U.S. have occurred outdoors,” said Heather Stanley, meteorologist with the NWS office in Lincoln. “Checking the weather forecast should be a step in planning any outdoor activity. But most importantly, don’t hesitate to act if you hear thunder. No place is safe outside in a thunderstorm.”

While fewer than 10 percent of people who are struck by lightning are killed, many lightning strike survivors suffer various degrees of disability. Only a few lightning strike victims actually suffer burns, and these are usually minor. However, many lightning strike survivors are left with debilitating life-long effects.

People shouldn’t hesitate to help someone who has been struck by lightning since victims do not carry an electrical charge. The surge of electricity through a lightning victim’s body causes cardiac arrest in most fatalities, so immediate medical attention is critical. If the victim doesn’t have a pulse and isn’t breathing, CPR should be administered immediately.