When to Prune Shrubs - Pruning Calendar for shrubs.
Without doubt, the factor that affects shrubs more
than any other is the actual timing of pruning operation. There is
certainly a best time when you should prune shrubs and trees - in
particular if flowering excellence is high on your list. Prune at the
right time, and you will get flowers when due; pruning at the wrong time
often means no flowers!
Our pruning calendar set out below - month by
month - gives the low down on when is the best time to prune shrubs and
trees in the garden.
The shrubs mentioned in this calendar for pruning do NOT HAVE
TO BE PRUNED in many instances. These are simply optimum times
if you so wish. For instance, some of the evergreens are best
pruned back by mid summer in order that they gain sufficient
'hardy;' growth before the onset of the following winter..You
will soon be aware of why 'when to prune shrubs' is as important
as 'how to prune shrubs'.
Pruning is necessary for some shrubs - not because they actually
need it, but more because we have either planted them in the wrong
place, or they are simply not conforming to what we think they should
look like. But if you are going to prune, it is essential that you know
when to prune shrubs, for if you prune some shrubs at the wrong time,
you can lose flowers for a year or maybe two.
There are many other shrubs that simply need pruning to do their best
for us - whether new lush foliage, stems or flowers. The downfall of
pruning in many cases - certainly as our mailbox suggests - is that many
shrubs are pruned at the wrong time.
This results in either cutting off the flower buds for the season -
hence no flowers for a year; cutting off the stems in autumn which would
normally give us a great display through the winter; or even pruning
some types of shrubs/trees at the wrong time of year, which then allows
fungal spores to enter!
Buddleja hard pruned in spring - ready to
send a lot of new growth and large flowers.
When to prune your Shrubs - Calendar Of
Pruning For Shrubs and Hardy Plants.
One of the problems of writing a Calendar of Shrub Pruning, is the
fact that every year brings seasons which are either earlier or later
than usual - particularly spring and autumn, and of course, being a
world wide website, there will be different hardiness zones in different
countries, together with different general climatic conditions which
will also affect the optimal timing of any pruning for some types of
shrubs. This can affect the time when you prune your shrubs. You will
have to gain knowledge about your own particular time zone to know this.
The basis of our calendar, is that of minimum average temperature of
approximately -7deg. This corresponds to most areas within the UK. It is
roughly equivalent to Group 8B on the USDA Hardiness Zones Table. As
with all things in life, times change. So do temperatures - regardless
of your feeling about global warming.
The calendar below will be added to.
January - February Pruning
February - March Pruning
- Hydrangea PG
(Paniculata Grandiflora) and arborescens - quite hard pruning.
- Sambucus foliage types, can be cut back hard to
induce good growth stems and foliage.
- Cornus alba and
stolonifera types - together with sanguinea can be cut
back hard to get plenty of stems for next winter spectacular.
- Pruning Wisteria - Mid
February is best.
March - April Pruning
- Evergreens General Pruning if needed. Some
evergreens will need to be pruned at different times. As a
general rule, evergreens should not be pruned when dormant.
- Prune Garrya elliptica
as soon as finished flower tassels
- Chimonanthus praecox - The Wintersweet. Right
after flowering - but minimal.
- Honeysuckle - the winter flowering bush types -
Lonicera fragrantissima etc.
- Caryopteris x clandonensis
should be hard pruned at this time
- Viburnum x bodnantense types - as soon as finished flowering.
Cut out 25% of the old stems to ground level each year to keep the
shrub looking tidy, and youthful.
- Hard Pruning and Rejuvenation of
old shrubs - End of March Easly April
April - May
mollis and other Witch Hazels - but only if you have
- Forsythia -
All types right after flowering.
nudiflorum - the Yellow Winter flowering type. Cut back
hard if you wish.
- Kerria japonica
- right after flowering, and cut some of the branches down to near
ground level. If you are really brave you can cut the whole shrub
down hard! It will reward you with some great lush foliage - and
flowers for next year of course.
- Pieris. Especially if there was frost damage to
the new foliage. Don't be afraid to cut back to regenerate - and get
some new coloured foliage.
- Chaenomeles - Quince - As soon as flowering
- Salix caprea and others that are grown for
their pussy willow catkins.
- Fatsia japonica - is best pruned in late April
- May once frosts are over. Winter damage cut out, and cut beck for
renewed foliage, and flower for the coming winter.
Winter Flowering Viburnums - V. bodnantense
May - June
- Weigela -
Unless still in flower. The foliage types can be cut back hard - ie
W florida nana and W foliis purpurea
- Photinia Red Robin
for some extra foliage colour, and especially now if you want
flowers in the next year.
- Euonymus Evergreen types - Can be pruned now
through to end July for better foliage effect.
- Camellia - the Sasanqua types - early in
May/June - after all flowering finished.
- Camellia - Japanese types - C. japonica
- Daphne - Evergreen types such as Daphne
bhuolua. Only corrective pruning really.
should have been done early May, but still ok now.
- Fothergilla - Only if you have to. Minimal
unless wanting to regenerate.
- Lilac - Syringa
- Dear head or prune back as soon as you can after flowering.
- Kalmia latifolia - probably in June, but right
after flowering has stopped.
- Spiraea - the varieties that have already
finished flowering in spring. NOT the summer flowering types
Viburnum evergreen and Deciduous types - spring or late
winter flowering types such as V. tinus and V davidii.
June - July
Pruning at this time of year is normally confined to shrubs that
flower on growths that were produced in the previous year. Therefore by
pruning now, you are giving the plant time to produce new growth this
year, which will also bear the flower buds for next year. Leave it too
late, and there will be no time for the shrub to produce next year's
flower buds. For this group of shrubs - prune immediately after
However, there are also several evergreens that can be pruned at this
time - if they are simply being grown for foliage effect.
- Flowering Cherry and Almond Trees - Prunus
- Evergreen Azaleas - as soon as finished
flowering, but only if they need it for shape or size.
- Deciduous Azales will need pruning - dead
heading in July.
- Rhododendrons - best only to dead-head the old
flowers, then you will see the new shoots directly beneath the old
- Kolkwitzia - The Beauty Bush, right after
- Deutzia - All types right after flowering.
- Gardenia if you are lucky enough to live in an
area of the world where they grow outside.
- Hydrangea - Oak leaf type - Hydrangea
quercifolia -minimal, but will ensure good autumn - fall - foliage.
- Philadelphus - Mock
Orange. All types right after flowering.
- Osmanthus - after flowering best.
- Pyracantha - Firethorn can be spur-pruned, or
simply cut back to the old faded flowers. These will bring you the
berries this autumn - fall - so don't cut them off.
- Roses - The climbing types - after flowering
- Calycanthus - Carolina Allspice, or Sweet shrub
- Right after flowering
- Itea ilicifolia - unless still in flower
- Elaeagnus pungens maculata and limelight, can
be pruned back to 'refresh' the foliage if required, or quite hard
to re-juvenate the plant. No later than end of July.
- Corylus avellana Contorta, may be re-juvenate
by pruning back hard by end of June preferably. This will give some
new contorted growths and clean up the fi=oliage that tends to get
messy around now!
- Cotinus Royal Purple will benefit from cutting
back hard to force another flush of vibrant foliage.
- Holly - Ilex best to do any pruning for foliage
by end of June - very early July latest.
- Junipers - the low growing types. Last pruning
back time this month.
- Laurels such as Prunus Otto Luyken, can be cut
back now at latest.
- Photinia Red Robin
can still be cut back for new foliage effect.
- Pittosporum - all varieties. Prune as required.
- Yew - Taxus spps. Last time for pruning back
- Myrtus - Myrtle - Would have been better
earlier in the year, but can be pruned quite hard now.
July - August
- Itea ilicifolia. Maybe earlier if flowering is
- Leucothoe. The Rainbow type responds well to a
hard cut back (for foliage) the others just minimal.
- Osmanthus - if you missed out in late June.
August - September
- Hedges that should be given their last trin
will include beech and hornbeam if grown for the winter foliage.
This allows time for new shoots - which will keep their dead leaves
through most of the winter.
Jasmine - Once the flowers have stopped.
September - October
September can be a useful month for pruning
certain shrubs - and trees - in certain ways! It is the month that
gardeners normally start to do a bit of tidying-up, and snipping away at
everything that looks overgrown can be a bit tempting. Wait! Don't!
The single most important this about pruning now,
is to ensure that you are not cutting off the flower bud stem for next
- Hedges - will normally have their last
clipping this month, but beech and hornbeam should have been done in
mid-august if you want leaves to stay on. (New growth).
- Pyracantha can have the non-berrying shoots
trimmed back to the visible berry trusses or spurs.
- Wisteria - normally pruned in October for the
winter prune, can be harmlessly cut back to within 45cm of the
shoots. The remaining stubs are tackled in February.
October - November
Winter Pruning Wisteria should
take place in October or November
November - December
December - January