By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Along with fun stuff like fireworks, many gardening chores are keyed to the Fourth of July, such as pruning back spring flowering shrubs like azaleas, forsythia, lilacs, viburnums and mock orange. Actually you should prune these spring-flowering shrubs as soon as possible after they bloom, because they spend the summer making flowers for next year.

It’s not that the plants know it’s the Fourth of July, that’s just an easy date for you to remember, and if you cut them much later than now, you’ll be cutting off lots of next year’s flowers. So if you go away for the holiday, get to it right away when you return or forget about pruning them much for this year.

It’s also advised to pinch back many fall blooming perennials such as mums by the Fourth of July to help make plants more compact, less likely to flop over, and to help them produce more flowers. But an even better thing to do is to replace those alien chrysanthemums with one of what I call our ‘Patriotic Plants’ like our native asters, which also bloom beautifully in the fall, and as a bonus, offer a place for butterflies to raise their babies.

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