Rushes (Juncus spp.) Tend to grow in moist or wet soil in areas with complete sun. Common rush (Juncus effusus) and also propagating rush (Juncus patens), both of which develop in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, are sometimes grown as ornamental plants but they can become invasive in some areas. Rushes need periodic pruning to look their very best.
Rushes stay evergreen in mild climates where temperatures rarely dip below freezing. The plants form clumps of erect green stems. Common rush flowers in midsummer, while spreading rush may blossom anytime from late spring through late summer. When the plants go completely dormant for winter, the stems will yellow and then turn brown in late fall or early winter. Plants that go dormant require complete pruning every year, while those that remain green only need a light trim.
The Right Tools
Pruning shears and rubber gloves will take care of any pruning requirements. Shears are only necessary once the rush requires a complete cutting back. Prior to using the shears, wipe the blades using isopropyl alcohol to disinfect them, and then wash them each time you move to the another plant. Although rush stems are not annoying and the stems of common rush are soft, you must wear gloves for light annual pruning because the rubber gloves hold the rush leaf much better. Use complete rubber gloves or cloth gardening gloves with latex, nitrile or rubber finger and palm pads.
A Light Trim
Individual stems inside a clump of evergreen rush die annually, while the main clump stays healthy and green. In late summer, remove the dead material to enhance the clump’s appearance. Put on the rubber gloves and comb through the leaf together with your fingers, gently pulling on the stems. The gloves will grip the dead stems, which easily pull free from the foundation of the plant. You can repeat this at any moment during the summer and spring growing season if there are a large number of dead stems combined in with the dwelling.
In locations where hurry dies back each winter, cut the whole clump with disinfected shears in late winter or early spring. Evergreen clumps only have to be cut every three or four years in late winter, or when they start to look sparse and ragged. Cut all the leaf stems right back to a 1 inch tall, removing and disposing of the dead foliage. New growth will emerge in the base of the plant when growth resumes in spring.