Shrub-type St. John's wort requires considered pruning
Question: I have three St John's wort plants. When I purchased them, they had many buds, and I thought I would have a full, beautiful yellow bush, but they bloom only sporadically. Do they need to be pruned?
Answer: Though you do not mention which type of St. John's wort (Hypericum species) you are growing, I'm assuming it's one of the shrub types vs. the lower growing perennial/groundcover varieties. These are very wonderful plants that deserve a place in our landscapes but proper pruning does indeed encourage more flowers and a better shaped plant.
St. John's wort blooms on new wood. The flowers that appear in mid to late summer develop on the new growth that occurs in the spring. For this reason, pruning should take place in early spring just before active stem growth begins. Many species of St. John's wort can be cut all the way back to the ground if necessary, but the shrub types should have about a third of the total height removed each season. Do this at the same time you prune your butterfly bushes back -- mid to late March.
When pruning your St. John's wort, use a clean, sharp pruning shear and selectively remove some of the branches. Also, remove any dead or crossed branches. Do not use an electric hedge shear to form them into meatballs -- this is not their natural form. Each place you make a cut will branch into two or more new stems, each of which should develop a flower cluster at its end. Doing this on a yearly basis will increase flowering and help the plant develop a good growth habit.
There are many types of St. John's wort; tiny rock-garden specimens, groundcover varieties, those that grow 12 to 18 inches, and lots of different shrubby varieties. All require full to partial sun and develop yellow, saucer-like flowers with lots of fuzzy anthers in the center. They are tolerant of poor soils, and their dense root systems are good at controlling erosion and out-competing weeds. The only negative to these wonderful plants is their tendency to have an occasional attack of spider mites, which are easily controlled with horticultural oil if necessary.
Another favorite trait of this plant is its interesting berry-like fruits, often found in the cut flower industry. Once the flowers have matured, tiny upside down strawberry-shaped yellow, orange, red or tan fruits appear clustered at the branch tips. They make wonderful additions to flower bouquets and add late season interest to the garden. And cutting a few of them off will not affect the following season's flowering.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steeler lineman Adams sues men he claims attacked, stabbed him
- Homewood shooting victim identified
- Ex-Wash High star McKenzie charged by police, suspended by Virginia Tech
- Blue Jays’ Martin has ‘nothing but praise’ for former Pirates teammates
- Sestak kicks off U.S. Senate campaign — with a couple missteps
- Penguins need trade-deadline acquisitions to bring toughness
- Elizabeth Township, McKeesport impacted by ice jam on Youghiogheny River
- Unity planners OK proposal for Route 30 retail development
- Guatemalan to be deported after getting caught with brass knuckles in luggage
- House resolution urges Wolf to reverse death penalty moratorium
- Police: Suspect in 1970 cold case homicide of 17-year-old dies days before charges filed