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barenose
Cut back, or pull out?

I have several bushy plants that are about 7 years old. One is a California Sage plant, the other a CA buckwheat, and the last is a lavender. I have cut the Buckwheat back every fall, but not the other two and now the insides of the other two are brown and look dead even though they bloom every year.

My question is should I cut them back to let the interior see some sunlight? Or should I pull them out and replant new ones?

A. Spruce
Re: Cut back, or pull out?

If the outside of the plant is still flourishing, then selective pruning to open up the canopy and let light in will probably do the trick. I would start with that and save replacement as a last resort.

You don't have to cut it back or even hack big holes into it, just carefully remove some of the perimeter foliage and branches to open up the plant a little bit without destroying the shape or size. Start slow, remove a small amount (25 - 30% ) at a time and wait for next season to prune more. This will help maintain sight-line screens and bush symmetry and the overall aesthetics of the bush.

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