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Beginner Gardening Questions: how to prune OLD and woody LEMON VERBENA

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Forum: Beginner Gardening QuestionsReplies: 1, Views: 14
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Eureka, CA

January 9, 2014
4:53 PM

Post #9744133

I have recently inherited a garden with several very old lemon verbena plants. they are currently dormant of course, but they have also been hit very hard with the latest freeze. i don't plan on pruning for several months, as i know another frost could do further damage, but what is the best way to prune it when i'm ready?
it is getting leggy and unsightly. i will try to upload a picture next time i'm online.
i mean will i be able to cut it back real hard or down to the ground? can i cut into old wood? some say i can, others say i can't. i'm sooo confused!
thanks for any advice!
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

January 10, 2014
7:16 PM

Post #9744968

Lemon verbena are never very dense, even with the most careful pruning.
The conservative answer to 'how to prune' would be to prune just the damaged or most awkward growth, leaving at least 3/4 of the plant to regrow.
I would be a bit more aggressive than this, and willingly remove up to 50% of the plant, including one or two cuts as low as 6-12" from the ground. In the summer assess where the new growth has come from and you can do more pruning then.
If you get good recovery from cutting into old growth then plan a rejuvenation over several years, perhaps cutting 1/3 of the older branches each year until the plants are more like what you are looking for. You would not be cutting the whole plant down at any one time, but each year you would be removing the oldest material.

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