Cut the summer lilacs properly - is it allowed to cut off blooms that have died?

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Summer lilac blossomed Buddleja

For your summer lilac, the scissors are the baton for the symphony of lavish floral splendor and seductive fragrance. Without a professional cut, the majestic flowering shrub will in a short time only become a shadow of its own. With this guide, you will get the horticultural know-how to properly cut your Buddleja davidii at the perfect time. Read here how to use the skilful cut to extend the flowering period, fix frost damage and prevent an invasive spread. This guide also reveals whether you are allowed to cut off blooms that have just died.

The best time

Several aspects are relevant for choosing the right time for pruning. A summer lilac blooms exclusively on this year's branches. These emerge from the sleeping eyes at the beginning of the growing season and form their buds and flowers at the end of the shoot and on the short side branches. Consequently, the blown branches of the previous year should not stand in the way of the recent sprouting. The perfect time for cutting is thus the late winter, during the months of January and February.
The cutback should have taken place by the end of February for two reasons.
The summer lilac needs enough time for the growth of its fresh branches. The later the cut, the later the flowering begins. Furthermore, between 1 March and 30 September, the Federal Nature Conservation Act prohibits radical cuts on all shrubs and hedges. In the months before and after may not be cut if there are living places of wild animals in the wood.
Tip: A summer lilac in a tub can already be cut back in the autumn before it is put into storage, if there is not enough room in the winter quarters for its expansive habit.

Tips on the cutting tool

A secateurs are usually enough to cut a summer lilac. Thick branches, such as are common in other flowering shrubs, develops a Buddleja davidii rarely. The investment in a pruning shears or saw is therefore unnecessary. Since you are dealing with a hard, brittle wood on the butterfly lilac, the quality of the cutting tool should be given special consideration.
The specialized trade holds two categories of pruning shears ready for the pruning. A bypass scissor has a curved blade that slides past the opposite edge when the handles are squeezed together. Anvil shears cut the wood by pressing the branch on a straight cutting surface. Bypass scissors score with precise cutting, but hard wood is often trapped between the blades, resulting in frayed cuts. This can not happen with the anvil scissors, as the anvil towers over the sharp blade on both sides. Therefore, the anvil shears are more advantageous for cutting hardwoody summer lilacs.

Cut for large flowers

Summer lilac Buddleja

In terms of care, the summer lilac is reserved and modest. In contrast, the flowering shrub does not have much of a minimalist reticence in terms of growth rate. Knowledgeable gardening enthusiasts know how to use this circumstance in order to elicit a large number of large flower candles with a specific cut. For this reason, garden butterfly lilacs trump their uncut species in the wild with opulent flower abundance. How to cut correctly:
  • At the time recommended here, thoroughly examine the shrub for birds and small animals housed there
  • If no nests are to be found, cut all flowering shoots from the previous year by up to two thirds
  • Only leave a small remaining piece with 2 sleeping eyes
  • Put the scissors a thumb-wide over a leaf knot
Please note that this cut focuses on the previous year's branches. The underlying old wood, from which branch out the branches, remains untouched. Over the years, the summer lilac is gaining in size and volume despite the radical cutbacks.
Tip: So that a summer lilac retains its youthful vitality, the pruning is extended from the fifth year of existence by the following measure: every other year, remove the two oldest leaders close to the ground to make room for young ground shoots.

Cutting guide for a shapely shrub crown

While the radical incision pursues the goal of the largest possible flower candles, a disadvantage should not be underestimated. Spurred on vehemently to the shootout, the summer lilac drives out rapidly in all directions, which runs at the expense of a harmonious silhouette. At the same time, over the years dense Astquirle develop, obstructing and shadowing each other, which can lead to a shortage.You get out of the way of these two problems with a variable cutting height. This is how it works:
  • First examine the shrub for animal inhabitants
  • Cheap pruned branches of the previous season only cut by a third
  • Shorten less favorable shoots by half to two thirds for shaping
  • Make each cut at a distance of 1 cm above a leaf node
  • In addition, thoroughly dilute the entire shrub
In between, take a few steps back to plan the next points of intersection. This process takes a little more time, but is rewarded with an elegant, dense and compact butterfly lilac.

Cut off blooming flowers - doubly useful

Many garden friends wonder if they are allowed to cut the withered flowers on the summer lilac. This measure is highly recommended for two reasons, which we will explain in more detail below:

Long flowering time

Cutting summer lilac - Buddleja

A radical cutback as Buddleja davidii does not get this summer lilac species, as in this way, a large part of the existing buds of the scissors fell victim. On the other hand, blown-out and dried-up flower spikes can be removed in early summer. On the other hand, regularizing in January / February is more important than the cutting of the form, as this creates space for young branches that bloom in perfect condition within two years.

Do not seal small cuts

Wound closure is in the wood care in the criticism. As has been shown in extensive research projects, shrubs and trees have effective self-healing powers, which are hindered by a sealing of the cut surfaces. All small cuts, which are smaller than a two-euro coin, therefore remain untreated.
If larger cuts occur in late winter, simply thinly coat the wound edges with tree wax or loam. In this way you protect the dividable cell tissue located there against frost and dryness. Just in time for the start of the warm season, the cambium will cover the cut and encapsulate in such a way that healthy growth will not be affected.

Properly maintain after the cut

Following the pruning, a butterfly lilac must drive out of its sleeping eyes. This is a show of strength for the shrub, which you can support with the following care program:
  • Spread a 3 cm layer of compost with horn shavings on the root disc
  • Only work lightly into the soil with the rake and spray over with water or nettle
  • In the bucket, administer a liquid fertilizer for flowering shrubs and add water
  • During flowering regularly pour with normal tap water
In July, a summer lilac is fertilized for the last time so that it matures before the beginning of the winter season. By now administering a potassium-stressed fertilizer, strengthen the winter hardiness. Among organic fertilizers, comfrey fulfills this task excellently, thanks to a high content of natural potassium. Alternatively, Patentkali, Dolomitkali or Thomaskali come in question in low concentration.
A bushy, flowering summer lilac relies on an annual pruning. The best time is during the months of January to the end of February. In order to achieve large flowers, all shoots of the previous year are radically blended with the exception of short remnants with 1 to 2 eyes. For a harmonious growth form garden friends cut back the flowered branches of the previous season in variable heights. Continuous cleaning of withered flowers creates an extra long flowering period and prevents the unwanted release. If the butterfly lilac receives compost with horn shavings or mineral-organic liquid fertilizer after pruning, nothing stands in the way of the summery flower fairy tale.

Video Board: How to Prune a Lilac Bush.

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