March 11, 2022

Spring fever is here! Keep your seasonal enthusiasm in check and take the time to think through the timing of spring pruning. You don’t want to cut off the very flower buds you have been anticipating all winter.

Prune NOW:

  • Prune and fertilize fruit trees before spring growth starts.
  • Prune blueberries now, then fertilize when they are blooming.
  • Prune overgrown shrubs before new growth begins.
  • Prune smooth hydrangeas (Annabelle type) and panicle hydrangea (Limelight type) in early spring.
  • Prune summer flowering plants like crape myrtle, butterfly bush, clethra, abelia, later-blooming spirea, holly, vitex, rose-of-Sharon, red twig dogwood, beautyberry, smoke tree, etc.
  • Prune roses in late March as you see new growth beginning. Fertilize when new growth appears, and danger of frost is past.

If it flowers before June, don’t prune!

– Wilma saw this hint on social media but can’t remember where.
Wait to prune the plants below until after they flower.

WAIT to Prune*:

  • DO NOT PRUNE azaleas, rhododendron, forsythia, quince, pussy willow, bridal wreath spirea, sweet shrub, fothergilla, itea, mock orange, lilac, weigela, viburnum, and other early spring bloomers until after they have flowered. Prune them immediately (or within five weeks at most) after their flowers have faded. Fertilize after flowering.
  • DO NOT PRUNE big leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea mac.) or oakleaf hydrangeas until after they have flowered.

*Note: Pruning now will not kill your shrub, but pruning now will deprive you of this spring’s flowers. You will get flowers again the following spring.

Rule of Thumb:

  • Prune off no more than 1/3 of the shrub.
  • Prune far enough back to allow for this season’s re-growth.
  • Don’t prune plants after August 1 because the resulting new growth can be damaged by fall frosts and weaken the plant.

Hint: Sharpen your pruners or loppers prior to pruning. Clean cuts are better for your plant’s health and easier on your body.