Pruning Lilacs and Rhododendrons | Real Solutions for the Garden
To simplify maintenance and harvest, train your plants to a cone shape growing from a 6-inch-high single stem, called a “leg.” The first spring, start developing the framework by cutting back, to about 6 inches, the three or four most vigorous shoots growing from the top of the leg. Remove all other shoots. Early next spring, again cut back the three or four most vigorous shoots growing from the top of each of last year’s stems, and remove all other shoots. Thereafter, remove weak shoots and crossed branches each spring. Removing and shortening stems produces smaller crops with larger fruit — easier to pick.Gooseberry plants benefit from a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer of mulch to insulate their shallow roots, maintain moisture, and minimize weeds; refreshing it each year is a good practice. Lee Reich’s fine guide, Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden (Timber Press, 2004; $24.95), describes numerous unusual fruiting plants and includes a chapter on gooseberries.
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