January 2023 has started off with beautiful weather and sunny days. This kind of weather makes it nice to get outside and work in the lawn, and there is always something to do in our lawns and gardens. If you made a New Year’s Resolution to get more exercise, then yard work is the perfect opportunity.
The winter months are a great time to prune trees. Most of our trees have lost their leaves, making it easy to see the limb structure, and it is better for the health of the tree to prune before they put on new spring growth.
Trees use up a lot of energy to put on new leaves in the spring, and we do not want to waste all their effort by pruning in April.
The Texas A&M Forest Service recommends pruning oaks in December and January when oak wilt is not active. Always be sure to paint the cut within 15 minutes of making it to prevent the nitidulid beetle from coming to feed on the sap. This beetle is one way oak wilt spreads, so you want to do everything you can to prevent it from feeding on the tree.
A good pruning cut is not flush with the trunk but is slightly angled to avoid the branch collar. Leave the branch collar so the tree can quickly wall off the damage from the cut and heal over the wound. You can tell a tree is covering over a wound when the rounded edge starts growing over the cut.
This week, I spent some time pruning back my perennial plants like Turk’s Cap, lantana, and salvia. I enjoyed having a green landscape this fall with the warm weather, but the artic blast during Christmas finally froze back my plants. This is a great time to clean up your perennial plants. I cut most plants close to the ground, and they will respond with a great flush of new growth in the spring.
Shrubs that flower in the very early spring, like quince, spirea, or forsythia, should be left alone right now. Wait until they have bloomed in the spring, then prune as needed for shaping. Those plants will bloom on last year’s growth, so you would remove all the potential blooms if you prune them now.
Enjoy the warm weather while we have it this January and get your garden ready for spring! For more lawn and garden information, contact Kate Whitney, Williamson County Horticulture Extension Agent, at 512-943-3300.