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Prune Fruit Trees

Prune your apple, pear, plum and peach trees. Start with removing dead/dying, diseased, and crossed branches. Prune out competing branches to allow sunlight and air movement. Remove only 1/3 of the tree in any one year.


Do not mulch removed material; either burn or dispose to prevent reinfecting your orchard. Look for and remove any egg cases encasing thin stems and on trunk.

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Photo used with permission

Older apple tree is pruned to reduce height and introduce more air and sunlight throughout.

Plant Hellebores

Buttercups blooming in January! Well almost, anyway. Once you have discovered hellebores, a perennial in the buttercup family, you will want to include some in your winter garden. There are 17 species available and hybridizers develop new varieties every year. Colors range from a light yellow-green to pinks and purples. There’s even a “black” hybrid.

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Photo used with permission

Helleborus 'Black Diamond" starts blooming early and is deer resistant.

Finish Winter Rose Care

Remove any remaining leaves on your roses, since leaves are an over-wintering source for spores from powdery mildew, black spot and other fungal diseases. Remember to pick up the leaves on the ground also. Dispose of leaves; do not put them in your mulch pile, since the fungus will persist in mulch piles.

If you didn’t do fall pruning, you can cut back the more vigorous and spindly shoots now, leaving 8-12" on bush roses. This encourages the rose to grow robustly in the spring.

Climbing rose canes can be laid down and covered in higher elevations to protect from freezing damage, but usually this is not necessary in coastal areas.

Consider removing cultivars that are susceptible to disease and insect pests and replacing them with resistant varieties to reduce your use of pesticides.

Disinfect, clean, and sharpen your rose pruning equipment. You might consider garden gloves with leather or canvas gauntlets to protect your arms when pruning your roses next spring.

Prune Wisteria

Once the basic structure is established, cut back summer side shoots of wisteria to 2 or 3 buds. Wisteria vines need to be vigorously pruned every year or they will overwhelm their supports and neighboring plants. 

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Photo used with permission

Timely pruning of wisteria will keep it from overwhelming its surroundings.

Authored by Katie Reid Levine, Island County Master Gardener
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