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The Best Time to Prune Shrubs

When is the best time to prune shrubs?

Prune with a reason in mind. Get out the saw and hand pruners only if you need to control the size, remove dead branches, and shape the plant or increase flowering and fruiting or improve bark color.

Dead and damaged branches can be removed when they are discovered. Do severe pruning in late winter or early spring to minimize the stress on the plants and achieve the best results.

Wait until right after flowering to prune spring blooming shrubs like lilac and forsythia. These set their flowering buds on wood formed the season prior to flowering. Late summer and dormant pruning eliminates the spring flowers.

You can prune summer blooming shrubs throughout the dormant season but I prefer late winter through early spring before growth begins. Early spring pruning allows you to enjoy the winter interest the plants provide. Plus the worst of the winter weather has passed so you can correct any damage while doing more routine pruning. In addition the wounds close quickly as new growth begins in spring.

Avoid fall pruning of evergreens. The tender needles exposed after pruning will be more subject to drying that results in browning from winter winds and sun. So remove those dead branches and put away your pruning tools until after the holiday season.


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