by Beth Cook, Mammoth Cave Transplants
By mid-summer, if an annual growing in a bed or container has become leggy and unproductive, simply cut it back. Annuals are those flowers and shrubs that go through their entire life cycle in one season. Because these plants are short-lived, you may want to get as many blooms out of them as you can. Pruning annuals, or giving them a haircut as we call it, is a way to keep the plant flowering and to improve its shape. It creates a bushier plant, more flowers, and better quality blooms.
Though there are many ways to go about pruning annuals, the simplest methods include pinching and deadheading. The amount of foliage you remove will of course depend on the size of the plant. When you cut back a plant, make sure you don't cut back to a point in which there are no leaf buds left.
Not all annual and perennial flowering plants require pruning or deadheading. A lot of flowers are self-cleaning and can be left alone. Others, such as geraniums, petunia, salvia, impatiens, begonias, lantana, daylily, and scores of other flowering plants will benefit tremendously from deadheading or a good pruning if they've stretched a lot by mid-summer.
Also, if you have mums that have come back this year, they are beginning to bud out to bloom now. If you want them to bloom for fall color, you need to pinch the buds back NOW, if you haven't already. So keep those annuals looking full and blooms galore, give them a haircut!
A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. ~James Dent