Remove Old Leaves to Promote Flowering

"Remove the old to make way for the new."

That may as well be a sentence you'll read in a "declutter and organize your life" self-help book or magazine. But it's a statement that applies too to gardening.

Below are pictures taken from the same plant, a Cypress Vine. Can you spot the differences between Photo A and Photo B?

Photo A

Photo B

If you say "Photo A has nothing but big leaves while Photo B has 3 flowers and some leaves", then you're only half right.

If you look closely, you'll also notice that Photo A's leaves are uniform in color, size and and shape. Photo B's leaves are varied in size and color - some are small and light green, some are big and dark green. You'll also notice fewer leaves in Photo B.

There's nothing necessarily bad with having the lush foliage in Photo A. In fact I liked the way the wind blew the nice feather-shaped leaves. They all billowed in unison with the gust of the wind. But if you're after the beautiful scarlet flowers of the Cypress Vine, then it's the wrong route.

And that's another tip in garden pruning - taking out the old leaves to make way for new leaves for new growth. Many flowering plants thrive on new growth and the Cypress Vine is a good example. Which leaves to remove? The old, withered ones that have yellowed are certainly first to go. Next are the ones that have become mature - dark grayish-green and much bigger.

Shown below is how to do it. From Photo A, select one mature leaf. Pinch it sharply with your thumbnail and index finger.

Remove the leaf with a slight tug of the fingers.

Doing this ensures new growth and new growth brings flowers. Here's an overhead shot of the Cypress Vine on the wall trellis. You'll see the rest of the flowers at the base of the wall.

Another tip induce flowering is deadheading. Here's how to deadhead the Cypress Vine and which to deadhead.

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