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When to Prune your Bushes and Trees

When it comes to pruning your plants, trees and shrubs it is important to know when to prune them. Pruning them at the right time leads to having beautiful, healthy plants that are productive. Since different plants need to be pruned at certain times, it is important to know when is the best time.

When to Prune Bushes and Trees

Since each type of tree and shrub has its own time to be pruned, use this easy guide to know when it is the best time to get your pruning shears out and prune your trees and shrubs.

Deciduous Shrubs

Deciduous shrubs do not all have the same timeline when it comes to pruning. It is going to depend on the growth habit, blooming time and the health of the plant.

Spring flowering shrubs

  • Spring flowering shrubs bloom on the growth from the prior spring. You do not want to prune these plants during the winter because it will take off the new growth and cause the plant to not flower the next year.
  • The best time to prune spring-flowering shrubs that are healthy and maintained well is right after the flowering time. Pruning immediately after flowering lets you enjoy the spring flower displays and gives the shrub growing time for the next year.
  • When spring-flowering shrubs are overgrown it can take a lot of pruning to bring back the health of the plant. The best time to prune these shrubs is in late winter and early spring. When you have to do heavy pruning, it can take 2 to 3 years for the flowers to come back at full strength but it will restore the health of the shrub.

Summer-flowering shrubs

  • If you have a summer-flowering shrub, these shrubs bloom on this year’s growth. That means the best time to prune summer flowering shrubs is in late winter and early spring. This gives the shrub time to put on the new growth to give them beautiful flowers.

If the shrub doesn’t produce flowers but has colourful bark, foliage or bears fruit, you want to prune these shrubs in early spring before the new growth starts.

You never want to prune deciduous shrubs in late summer. When you prune them in late August or early September, it can encourage a bust of growth. This growth is not sturdy enough to survive the cold weather and it can damage the shrub.

Evergreen Shrubs

The best time to prune evergreen shrubs is in late March or early April. You want to prune the evergreen shrub before any new growth starts. Do not prune them in the late fall because it causes the shrub to be more likely to take on winter damage.

Deciduous Trees

The best time to prune deciduous trees is February and March. This is because it is easier to see what you are pruning thanks to the lack of foliage. This is the best way to assess any damage the tree may have. The only exception to this is oak trees. The best time to prune oak trees is December, January and February.

The good thing about pruning deciduous trees is there are no negative consequences if you prune the trees any time of the year. However, it is best to avoid pruning in spring when getting their leaves and in the fall when the trees are dropping leaves.

Evergreen Trees

When it comes to pruning evergreen trees, the best time to remove unwanted lower branches is during the late winter. If the tree has died, is diseased, or broken branches, you can safely prune them at any time of the year.

Trees like spruce and fir trees grow in the newest, outmost growth. To prune the trees in order to promote denser growth, prune the shoots back just above the lateral buds in early spring.

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2 Comments

  • Reply William Gould

    Very useful, thank you!

    10th May 2020 at 7:48 AM
  • Reply Esther Kronborg

    Winter is the time for major thinning or redirecting any tree or shrub that needs it. Removing dead, diseased, or broken branches, and simply clearing out clutter (just like inside your house), is a good winter project. And if you need to take out that major branch heading for the picture window, to redirect your tree in a more preferred direction, it’s easier to see and cut when it’s bare.

    15th May 2020 at 3:19 PM
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