The Q&A Archives: pruning sweet pea shrubs

Question: I have sweet pea shrubs along my driveway and they are getting too large. One attempt at pruning last year left exposed

Answer: Since sweet pea shrubs bloom nearly year around in your climate, you'll want to choose a time between bloom cycles to prune your shrubs. If they've gotten quite leggy, you may have to prune them in 3-4 separate sessions to reduce the size and encourage them to fill out. The important thing is not to remove more than one-third of the live plant material at any one time. While you can whack the shrubs back to nearly ground level, their health will be compromised and they'll take quite a while to rebound. I'd prune them back by one-third now; wait until spring and prune them back by a third again, then wait until early fall to prune them back once more. The timing should allow the shrubs to recover after each pruning session without problem. Once you get them a little smaller than the desired size, make it a habit to pinch out the stem tips every 4-6 weeks. This will encourage a dense, compact growth habit without sacrificing blooms.

Best wishes with your garden.

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