General Tips for Pruning

  • Think before you cut – you can’t put it back!
  • Pruning time of flowering shrubs is dependant on their bloom cycle. Pruning at the wrong time of year/cycle will mean the loss of flowers, not necessarily the loss of the plant.
  • Severe pruning of evergreens, depending on the species, may mean the loss of the plant, know your evergreens before you prune and be careful how much evergreen foliage you remove.
  • You may wish to save some perennial and summer blooming shrub spent bloom/seed pods/berries for winter interest and wildlife habitat/food.
  • Prune summer to fall blooming shrubs and small trees in winter without foliage on them allows you to see the internal structure of the plant enabling you to make proper pruning selections.
  • ALWAYS cut with the blade toward the main stem or bud to allow for closer cuts.
  • ALWAYS use the correct tool for the job – hand pruners, shears, loppers, pruning saw.
  • Saw a safety cut under branches over 1 inch to avoid bark stripping.
  • Single buds get a 45 degree cut ¼ inch above the bud; Double buds a straight cut ¼ inch above the buds.

General Pruning of Shrubs

  • Generally prune flowering shrubs right after they are done blooming.
  • NEVER prune a spring blooming shrub in the fall.
  • NEVER prune a fall blooming plant in the summer.
  • Don’t use shears on broad leaf evergreens. You must live with the clipped leaves for another whole year!
  • Most shrubs need to be to have 3-year old wood removed to make room for new vigorous shoots.
  • Prune to correct and shape or to control size. Shear for shape…if you must.
Spring Fall Not Recommended
Panicle Hydrangeas
Perennial Bed Clean up
Mop Head Hydrangeas
Roses
Small Trees
Azaleas
Most Spirea
except early summer bloomers
Most Spirea
except early summer bloomers
Rhododendrons
Boxwood and Yews
Boxwood and Yew
"Some" Camellias
Junipers
Junipers
Blue Berry Bushes
Berry Vines
Crape Myrtle
Quinces
Caryopteris
Evergreens
Magnolias
Butterfly Bush
Dogwoods
Forsythia (late spring)
Spruce and Fir
Crepe Myrtle
Fruit Trees

 

Pruning of Trees

  • Fall-winter is a great time for tree pruning because you can see structure for general shaping.
  • Weeping maples and weeping cherries need thinning.
  • Less bleeding occurs because the sap is not running.

Pruning of Perennials

  • Most bushy perennials can be removed to the ground in fall.
  • Remember to think about your winter interest – seed pods.
  • Clear the way for spring bulbs.
  • Bearded Iris – Remove dead foliage to the ground.

 

Perennials Prune Reason
Daylily
Yes
Saves mess in the Spring
Cone Flower
No
Birds
Black Eyed Susan
No
Birds
Tall Sedum
No
Snow Catchers
Catmint
Yes
Neat Appearance
Coral Bell
Yes
Remove Frosted Leaves
Columbine
Yes
Neat Appearance
Hellebore
No
Evergreen Leaves
Lavender
Yes
Early October/Late April Only
Tree Peony
Yes
Only to New Bud
Peony Herbacious
Yes
Neat Appearance
Ferns
Non-evergreen groundcovers
Yes
Neat Appearance