One of the more fragrant shrubs, summersweet is a blooming shrub that continues it flowery ways well into the summer months. While most of the other shrubs have dropped their early blooms, the summersweet lives up to its name by producing flowers until August.
For the best blooms, you should prune your summersweet shrub in the early spring and after the blooming season. Pruning is a way to control the growth of your shrub. Pruning is also a very important method for encouraging growth, filling out the shrub to make it look fuller, shaping the shrub, and produce larger flowers or fruit.
Step 1 - Clean Away Debris
After the long winter months, there will be damaged branches, leaves, and even holes from burrowing animals. Take the time to clean this away before doing any pruning. Pull off the dead branches and leaves and work the ground so that it is compacted and free of any holes.
Step 2 - Lay Down Plastic Tarp
When you prune back a shrub there will a lot of debris left over. You can carry a bucket with you to put the branches into, but it is much easier to let them drop on a tarp. Lay down a plastic tarp under the shrub making sure it goes completely around the base of the shrub.
Step 3 - Remove Dead Branches
The branches that are left on the shrub that are bent, broken, or dead should be removed first. This will show you what needs to be removed afterward.
Step 4 - Prune for New Growth
After the dead stuff is removed with the pruning shears, it is time to begin pruning for the new growth for the season. This requires a careful eye and not just snipping off the ends like you see in movies or commercials. Hold the pruning shears at an approximate 45-degree angle and snip off some of the wayward growth.
Look around the bush and uniformly prune off the branches that are longer than others and stick out too far. Then begin picking branches that can be removed to thin out the shrub. This will actually make it fuller by giving the remaining branches more nutrients to produce more flowers and stimulate new growth.
Step 5 - Shape Your Shrub
Once you have done your spring pruning for new growth, then you can begin to trim it back and shape your shrub. Most summersweet shrubs are pruned to look neat and round. Start at the top of the shrub and work your way down to the bottom. Do not try and take a lot off at a time. Snip small pieces off until you get the desired size and shape.
Step 6 - Clean Up Old Branches
Carefully slide out the tarp from under the Summersweet shrub and dump the prunings into a compost pile. You can use this for fertilizer or mulch later on in the year.