When to prune trees, shrubs, and other plants is one of the biggest questions gardeners ask. They’re afraid to prune plants at the wrong time of year. Will it hurt them? What if I accidentally cut off all of the flowers?
First, try not to worry too much about when to prune. There’s a simple and easy to remember rule of thumb that I’ll teach you. Plus, I’ve put together a downloadable sheet that you can save and refer to at any time that lists common trees and shrubs and the right time to prune them.
A quick refresher – if you haven’t read the other posts about pruning in this series, you may want to read them or watch the videos I’ve put together. These cover:
I also have several articles about pruning specific plants, such as:
When to Prune Spring-Flowering Trees and Shrubs
Spring-flowering trees and shrubs bloom on last year’s growth. This means that the flowers you see in March, April, or May developed the previous year.
That’s why it’s very important to prune spring blooming plants at the right time of year. If you prune them at the wrong time of year, you will accidentally cut off the flowers. This won’t hurt your plant in the long run. It will recover. But for a year or two, you may have no or very few flowers.
Pruning Rule #1
Prune Spring-Flowering Plants Immediately AFTER They Finish Blooming
Prune the following plants in the spring soon after they finish blooming.
|Common Name||Botanical Name|
|Chinese Redbud||Cercis chinensis|
|Japanese quince||Chaenomeles Japonica|
|Fringe tree||Chionathus virginicus|
|Spring-flowering deutzias||Deutzia species|
|Star magnolia||Magnolia stellate|
|Mockorange species||Philadelphus species|
|Pieris species||Pieris species|
|Azaleas and rhododendrons||Rhododendron species|
|Rambling rose species||Rosa species|
|Early white spirea species||Spiraea species|
|Lilac species||Tamarix parviflora|
|Small-flowered tamarix||Tamarix species|
|Viburnum species||Viburnum species|
|Old-fashioned weigela||Weigela florida|
Download and Print a List of Plants and When to Prune Each
Grab your copy of my free printable worksheet on when to prune plants.
You don’t need to do anything special or jump through hoops to grab your copy – just click the link.
It will download as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.
Save the file to your computer, open it, and print it. That’s it.
When Should You Prune? Worksheet Download
Pruning Rule #2
Rule #2: Prune plants that bloom during the summer or fall in late winter, before the leaves appear.
|Common Name||Botanical Name|
|Glossy abelia||Abelia x grandiflora|
|Butterfly Bush||Buddleia davidii or globose|
|Japanese beauty bush||Callicarpa japonica|
|Shrub althea||Hibiscus syriacus|
|Hills of Snow||Hydrangea arborescens|
|Peegee Hydrangea||Hydrangea paniculate|
|Saint John’s Wort||Hypericum species|
|Crape myrtle||Lagerstroemia indica|
|Bush rose||Rosa species|
|Anthony Waterer Spirea||Spiraea bumbalda|
|Mikado Spirea||Spiraea japonica|
|Chase tree||Vitex agnus-castus|
Got Pruning Questions?
Every Thursday at 11 a.m. Eastern time, I host a Facebook Live event on Home Garden Joy’s Facebook page. I welcome questions from all gardeners. You can submit them on the Facebook page or drop me a note. I’m happy to answer your pruning questions or other gardening questions!
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.