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Dry roots are chief cause of planting failures, and steps should be taken to prevent this—i.e., balling and burlapping, and heeling in. After receiving shrubs from a nursery, water as soon as possible; shade them from sunshine at first, mulch ground around them, and prune back severely.
The older plant you get, more severely it will have to be cut back, so that in long run, you come out just as well buying less expensive, smaller shrubs. Forsythia and azalea may be moved while in flower, but most plants should not.
Watering in fall, before ground freezes, is important for box, azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel and broadleaf evergreens, whose leaves lose moisture in winter.
Pruning of shrubs helps to keep them young and vigorous. Rather than cutting all branches off to an even length, prune out older branches, even though they may be sound. With lilacs, for example, use a keyhole saw, and cut as close to ground as possible, cutting out oldest stems.
Some shrubs need pruning every year, especially those which have dead branches as a result of winterkill. (These include some deutzias, hydrangeas, buddleia, spireas and privets.) Other shrubs such as rhododendron, azaleas, magnolia and buddleia should have flower heads pruned off after blooming.
Paul Curran is CEO of Cuzcom Internet Publishing Group and webmaster at Trees-and-Bushes.com, providing access to their nursery supplier for a range of quality plants, trees, bushes, shrubs, seeds and garden products.Visit their trees section to find a great selection of shrubs for your garden