Information On Dutchman’s Pipe Pruning And When To Prune Dutchman’s Pipe Vine

Information On Dutchman’s Pipe Pruning And When To Prune Dutchman’s Pipe Vine

By: Kathee Mierzejewski

The dutchman’s pipe plant, or Aristolochia macrophylla, is grown both for its unusual blooms and its foliage. It should be pruned to get rid of any shoots or old wood that is clogging up the beauty of this plant. There are also specific times of year in which to prune the dutchman’s pipe, so you need to pay attention to its blossoming and growth habit.

Pruning Dutchman’s Pipe Plant

You will want to prune your dutchman’s pipe vine for a couple of reasons.

  • First, by removing damaged or dead wood from your dutchman’s pipe plant, the plant gets more air, which will prevent disease better.
  • Dutchman’s pipe pruning also increases the production of flowers because the plant gets rejuvenated.

How and When to Prune Dutchman’s Pipe

Pruning dutchman’s pipe is not too difficult or complicated. You can do minimal pruning whenever you want to remove any dead or diseased branches. You can clean up the dutchman’s pipe vine by removing damaged or crossed branches, which will give your vine a better look.

In the summertime, after the vine is done flowering, you have an opportunity for more intensive dutchman’s pipe pruning. At this time, you can cut back the shoots and prune back some of the old growth to the ground. This helps make the plant a little heartier for the next season.

In the spring, pruning dutchman’s pipe will help to encourage new growth and it will improve the flowering since dutchman’s pipe vine flowers grow on new wood.

Sucker pruning can be performed at this time too by removing some of the flowers that appear on the wood from the previous year. In other words, remove half the flowers that are on the old wood. This makes for a stronger plant and a better growing season. This is really no different than picking suckers off your tomato plants or cherry trees.

Remember that you can prune your dutchman’s pipe plant any time of year, depending on what you are pruning the plant for. Pruning dutchman’s pipe is easy and basically a matter of common sense. Anyone can handle this job, and anyone can figure out what the plant needs. Dutchman’s pipe plants are quite hardy and can handle just about anything you happen to do to it.

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Tree Care Tips & Techniques

These comprehensive tree care tips will guide you through the process of selecting, planting, and caring for the right tree for your space.

It’s important to remember that proper tree care starts when you select a tree. And what you do to your tree in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its lifespan. Following these steps will make sure your tree gets a good start for a healthy life.

Tips for Planting Forsythia Bushes

Most garden centers sell established forsythia plants. Lynwood Gold Forsythia is a very popular variety that many gardeners choose. It really lights up the spring with an abundance of yellow blooms.

The plant is great for adding privacy and for focal plants in a garden bed. It can reach tree size that is up to 8-10 feet tall, so needs room to grow.

Mature forsythia plants that have not been kept under control can take up a lot of room in the garden. Keep your gardening habits in mind when planting them.

If you discover years later that your forsythia is too large for its space, you can move it. See my tips for transplanting forsythia here.

When to plant Forsythia

Forsythia can be planted pretty much all year long, other than when there is a frost or freeze. Timing depends a lot on your planting zone.

If you live where the ground does not freeze, you can plant even during the winter months. Northern gardeners like to plant in early spring after the last frost in order to help the plant become established before a hard winter.

One big advantage of spring planting is that you will be able to see the color of the blooms if you purchase locally. My one suggestion is not to plant in the middle of the summer unless you want to spend a lot of time on the end of the hose, making sure that it gets enough moisture.

For most zones, early to mid fall (September or October) is the best time to plant forsythia. The weather is not too hot but the ground is still quite warm which encourages root development.

Spacing Forsythia Plants

Check your tag to see how tall and wide the plant will be when it is mature. One of the mistakes that many beginners make is to plant shrubs too closely together.

They will end up crowding each other and won’t grow well. If the bush grows near a fence line, be sure to plant it in some from the edge so it will grow on the back side, too.

Forsythia has a pretty arching habit and needs plenty of room for those branches to spread out. Be sure to space your plants to accommodate the size of the mature plant, particularly if you plan to grow them along a side of your garden as a border plant.

I have mine spaced about 8 feet apart and now after three years the branches fill in the spaces between each shrub.

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Where to Plant Forsythia – Soil Needs

Choose a location in your garden that gets full sunlight and has good soil that drains well. If you have a soil testing kit, check your soil.

Forsythia likes a soil pH with a range between 6.8 and 7.7. Many local departments of agriculture will test your soil for free if you get in touch with them.

If your soil is not in the suitable range, sublimed sulfur will help to lower the PH and powdered limestone will help to raise it.

As with all perennials, I like to add in 2 to 3 inches of organic matter or compost into the planting area to a depth of about 10 inches especially if the soil is sandy.

Be sure that the spot that you choose gives plenty of room for forsythia bushes to spread, especially if you want to take full advantage of its arching habit.

If you are aiming for a forsythia hedge, you can space the plants closer together.

What to plant with forsythia

With most perennials, this question is easy to answer, since perennials are often used as focal plants. But the size of forsythia makes this more of a problem.

Don’t use forsythia as a focal plant. The shrub will grow to a great size quickly and will outshine and crowd out anything planted near it. Instead, think of contrasting colors when choosing other plants.

Redbud trees and cherry trees make great companions because they give a strong color contrast. Flowering quince, and daffodils are also good choices, sine they flower in early spring as well, giving a good show of early color.

Planting forsythia shrubs grown in containers

Dig a hole that is at least two times as wide as the root ball of your plant and the same depth as the root area. Remove the plant from the container and set the root ball into the hole. Make sure that it will sit at the same level with the ground.

Fill in the space around the plant with more good quality soil and tamp it down firmly around the roots of the plant. Water the plant well.

Transplanted shrubs can suffer a bit when moved from a pot to the garden and watering the area well gives it a better chance of withstanding the move with ease.

After watering, the soil level many look lower near the crown on the plant. Just add a bit more soil It is best to hold off on adding commercial fertilizer until the plant has become established.

Planting bare root forsythia

If you order online, you will often get bare root plants which will be shipped according to your hardiness zone. These plants are available from many mail order nurseries.

They are generally less expensive than potted plants, but are also smaller as well. Forsythia is a fast grower, so a bare rooted plant may be perfect for you!

Bare root plants are shipped in a bag with a planting medium – normally sphagnum moss or shredded cedar. This is placed around the root system to keep it moist.

Dormant plants will not have leaves. But actively growing plants may have some leaves showing.

Prepare the soil in your garden by adding some organic matter and be sure to plant very quickly once the specimen arrives. The shipping medium should be added to the planting hole along with the bare root plant.

Try to plant it at the same depth as the original plant was planted. (Check the trunk of the plant. You should see a tree ring which shows that level.)

If you get a cold snap or you don’t have time to plant the bare root specimens in the garden right away, just be sure to get them into soil in pots as soon as they arrive. They will only last a short while in the shipping medium.

Water the plant regularly for the entire first year. You will get the best results if you choose a bare root plant from a nursery in your own hardiness zone. Not only may it arrive more quickly, but it will have been grown according to local conditions.

Tips and Advice

March is always an exciting month. The weather here in this garden is maverick and completely unpredictable - the chances are high that it will be cold, wet, snowy, frosty, stormy, sunny and balmy - and often all on the same day. Despite this, March is the month when the garden really comes alive after winter. Whatever the weather does, Spring cannot be denied. March birdsong is the best of the year and the bulbs, from the latest snowdrops to the earliest tulips and a dozen species in between, are all bursting into flower.

I write this with the flood waters rising again after a week of storm, heavy snow, hard frosts, sudden thaw and now heavy rain. The chickens are permanently under cover to isolate from avian flu and the Covid pandemic still rages. I have barely left this garden since last February and after 25 years of almost incessant globe-trotting, visiting gardens all over the world, have not travelled anywhere at all since I stepped off the plane from L.A. in October 2019.

After the tribulations of 2020 we are all entering into 2021 with a mixture of hope and caution. The garden at this time of year perfectly reflects this sometimes contradictory combination. January often has the worst weather of the year and the days are still cripplingly short in this part of the world. But the light is slowly - very slowly - stretching out the days and by the end of the month I can still see to garden at 5pm whereas in the middle of December there is not much much light past 4 o clock on a cloudy afternoon.

As we end this, the strangest and most unpredictable of years, the garden is reassuringly true to its December form. It falls into the rhythm and pattern that December inexorably brings of grey, dull days, the garden as drab and washed out as at any point in in any year. This is not good - but at least it is reliably consistent. Climate change means that snow in December is now rare and frost become much less common.

Over 30 years ago I was making a large garden about 20 miles from here in the Herefordshire countryside (The story of which I told which I wrote about in ‘The Prickotty Bush’ pub 1990. Spoiler alert: it ended badly). Part of my rather grandiose plans were to carve the steep hillside into a series of terraces with a large lawn, rose terrace, bowling green and herb garden.

We had lovely September weather again here in Herefordshire, hot and dry and yet softened by exquisite light, and this glorious late-season weather seems a pattern emerging out of climate change, but we know it is all borrowed from summer and when October arrives with the accompaniment of rain, winds and plummeting temperatures at least it feels as though the balance of the seasons are reasserting themselves.

The weather in August was pretty miserable here in the garden. We had a swelteringly hot, humid first half followed by constant, wind, gales and then unseasonable cold. It felt as though the seasons had skipped a month and October was knocking at the door. But September is the mediator. It is the true link between summer and autumn and, in its gentle light and slow drift can be one of the loveliest times of the year.

August is really a new season and carries the weight of summer and the seeds of winter. Much of the garden is coming to full fruition with flowers, fruits and vegetables all ripening and acquiring a fulsome quality that no other month matches. But at the same time this is clearly a kind of ending and the demands of spring and summer growth start to show.

First let me apologise for the lack of a June update. The reason was simply that I was completing my latest book ‘MY GARDEN WORLD’ which will be published on September 17th . Together with filming Gardeners World for two days every week throughout lockdown - entirely on my own in the garden via robot cameras- and keeping my various journalistic commitments going has taken every waking hour.

The Lockdown and severely restricted movement imposed as a result of Coronavirus has been tough for many people but the fact remains that for those of us with a garden there has been a silver lining. Throughout April I suspect that more of us spent more time at home than at any time since we were small children and here at home the weather throughout April was a joy.

Over the last month all our worlds have been turned upside down and inside out. But there has never been a time when a garden has been more important to our physical or mental well-being. A garden or allotment is a privilege and a luxury but a balcony, window box or a window sill that we can grow some plants on can all enrich our lives and bring a perspective to these troubled days.

I apologise for being a little late with my update this month but I have been buried in a book (which will be published this September and is about all the wildlife here in this garden) and lost track of the days.

What with some of the wettest weather I have known in my life, February was a strange month, so it is a relief to arrive at March.

I know that there are those that find February the cruellest month- the straw that breaks winter’s back - but I love it. Regardless of the weather or the state of the garden, Spring is coming and the days that hang so heavy in the weeks up to Christmas, are getting lighter in weight as well as day length.

Whereas I have a real sense in November and December of the year folding in on itself and the garden at best retreating but more often cowering from the lack of light, January always brings with it a slow unfurling. There may be – there usually is – snow and ice to come but that is a temporary inconvenience. The progression is unstoppably forward. But gently.

November 2019 was one of the wettest months for a very long time. The fields around the garden remained flooded all month and as the rain increased or backed off, the flood waters rose and fell into the garden like a tide. We have known this before and accept it as part of our winter weather but it makes gardening difficult and, at times, frankly unpleasant.

Climate change has meant that November has become one of the busiest months in my garden. 20 years ago we used to prepare the garden for winter in October in the certain knowledge that November would bring days - if not weeks - of some cold, sharp frosts.

The first three weeks of September this year were as good as I can ever remember them. In fact one of my neighbours - a sprightly 90 year old - told me that the last time that he remembered a September as good as this was the Battle of Britain - 1940!

The summer is drawing to a close but it usually manages to do this gracefully throughout the month of September. I may live to eat my words – September has been known to be cold and wet and climate change is challenging all preconceptions and experience – but by and large it is a lovely month with daytime warmth, nights that are pleasantly cool and a special light that has real elegance.

Although August is the month of holidays and high summer, it is also when the garden can start to become a little careworn. Actually this fading tendency tends to be worst at the beginning of the month and as we go towards September – at Longmeadow at least – it seems to pick up pace again.

Whereas July 2018 was part of a long hot, dry spell, this year Longmeadow starts the month sodden after a particularly wet June. But, by British standards at least, July is always warm so midsummer rain means lushness and green everywhere along with the intense colours of the high summer borders.

Trim Evergreen and Semi-Evergreen Perennial Plants

Depending on where you are gardening, some perennial plants will never quite go dormant, but they may still need tidying up. Plants like Epimedium, Hellebores, Heuchera, and bearded iris retain their leaves all winter. Spring is the time to trim back the tattered foliage and encourage new growth to come in.

Narrow Posts

Pound garden canes or narrow sticks into the ground behind the clematis stem at an angle. The canes should angle back toward the fence. Even if the stem is close to the fence, the canes offer support while the vine is young.

Attach the vine loosely to the cane using garden twine or chenille stems, also known as pipe cleaners. Allow the vine room to move slightly within the tie.

Guide the vine up the cane and toward the fence. When the vine is long enough to climb at least 2 inches up the fence post, attach it to the fence post using garden twine or chenille stems.

Secure additional vines as they branch off from the stem using chenille stems or garden twine. Adjust the vines as necessary to provide the type of coverage you want. For example, if you're seeking privacy, train multiple vines along each fence post. If you want a wide swath of color along your fence, spread the vines out to the sides using an upward angle.

Attach the vines every 12 inches until they are mature enough to grip the fence securely on their own, which often takes one growing season. Continue connecting new growth during the spring, summer and early fall.


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Spiraea japonica


Bloom time:

Height and spread:

This seedless,non-invasive variety blooms non-stop from spring until fall. Deep red foliage emerges in early spring, followed by purple-red flowers in late spring.

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Spiraea japonica


Bloom time:

Height and spread:

Giving you three seasons of show-stopping color and extra-large pink blooms, this spirea truly creates a big bang wherever it’s planted. The blast of color begins in the spring with the emergence of bright orange foliage that turns radiant yellow in the summer before transitioning back to golden orange in autumn. The giant clusters of pure pink blooms appear in late spring, creating a dazzling contrast with the yellow foliage.

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Spiraea japonica


Bloom time:

Late spring through midsummer

Height and spread:

This exquisite little spirea may have the most colorful foliage around, emerging candy-apple red in the spring and maturing to yellow and pumpkin orange as the season progresses. Adding to its eye-candy appeal are dark purple flowers that appear in late spring. Give it a light shearing after the first flush of blooms and enjoy an encore performance that lasts into fall. Otherwise, little pruning is needed to maintain this shrub’s compact, mounded shape.

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Spiraea nipponica


Bloom time:

Late spring through early summer

Height and spread:

Growing no taller than waist level, this elegant white-flowering spirea takes the cake over its taller cousin ‘Snowmound’, maintaining a neat, rounded shape well suited for smaller gardens, especially as a hedge plant or dramatic focal point. A profusion of lily white flowers in late spring creates a striking contrast with the dark blue-green foliage.

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Spiraea media


Bloom time:

Height and spread:

Blue foliage shifts colors through the year through shades of red, purple and green. This variety does well in partly shady conditions and isn't fussy about watering or soil conditions either. Blooms with crisp white flowers starting in late spring. A great non-invasive choice for eastern U.S.

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Spiraea betulifolia


Bloom time:

Height and spread:

This gold-leafed version of birchleaf spirea provides a longer season of interest, with sunny yellow spring foliage that matures to chartreuse in summer and turns warm shades of red, orange, and purple in fall. In early spring, flower buds with hints of red open into clusters of pure white flowers. Extremely cold hardy and heat tolerant.

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Spiraea japonica


Bloom time:

Height and spread:

If your garden needs some color to offset one-note green-leafed shrubs and evergreens, the striking foliage of spirea ‘Goldflame’ provides the perfect counterpoint. In spring, the leaves are bronze-red, shifting to bright yellow-green in the summer and rich coppery orange in the fall. An explosion of rosy pink flowers in early summer stands out in vivid contrast. Also try S. japonica 'Goldmound', which has similar color-shifting foliage that emerges bright golden yellow in the spring and transitions to chartreuse in the summer and an attractive orange-red in the fall.

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'Little Princess'
Spiraea japonica


Bloom time:

Height and spread:

2 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Completely enrobed in dainty clusters of light pink flowers from late spring through early summer, ‘Little Princess’ reigns supreme as a showy low-maintenance accent shrub for gardens with limited space. A dense, tight growth habit keeps it looking neat and tidy without pruning. The finely textured mint-green leaves turn a striking coppery bronze in fall.

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'Magic Carpet’
Spiraea japonica


Bloom time:

Early summer through fall

Height and spread:

1 to 2 feet tall, 2 feet wide

This low-growing mounded spirea shrub is ideal for creating eye-catching borders that provide continual interest. In spring, the new leaves are vibrant red, gradually maturing to gold while retaining red tips at the ends of the branches. In summer, clusters of deep pink flowers set off the bright gold foliage and continue sporadically well into fall.

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'Anthony Waterer'
Spiraea japonica


Bloom time:

Height and spread:

2 to 3 feet tall, 3 to 4 feet wide

One of the oldest and most popular of the Japanese spireas, 'Anthony Waterer' has set the bar high for other cultivars to follow. From late spring through midsummer, it flaunts frilly 6-inch clusters of carmine-pink flowers set against a backdrop of attractive blue-green foliage. In autumn, the leaves turn attractive shades of red.

Watch the video: Pruning: Crafting a Beautiful Landscape with Jim Connolly