What to prune, how to prune and when to prune: Some basic tips

Felco Pruner

Posted on by plsadmin

Deciding what to prune and when to do it can be confusing.  Here are a few basic tips that can help.

WHEN to prune:

Typically, if a shrub blooms in the early spring it means that the blooms grow off of old wood.  This means that if you prune it in late fall, winter, or early spring you will be cutting off all the buds that will growing into blooms.  You’ll need to prune these plants after they finish blooming in the spring.

If it’s a fall bloomer it typically blooms on new wood and you can prune it in the winter or early spring.

If you’re just removing dead wood you can do that any time of year.

Pruning can be very stressful to a plant so it’s best not to prune if the plant is already stressed.  It’s better to prune during cooler seasons – try not to do it in summer but if you must then avoid hot days!

It’s always a good idea to check the extension service for your state to see what their recommendations are for your region.  Pruning times in Texas are going to be very different that in Minnesota.

HOW to prune:

This depends on why you need to prune. Are you trying to keep a plant small, do you want bushier growth, do you want it to grow in a certain shape, or was the plant damaged in some way?  Pruning is very plant-specific so it’s a good idea to look up pruning advice for your plant.

If you have any doubts about what you’re doing or why you’re doing it it’s really best that you consult a professional to advise you.  Especially when it involves a valuable plants it’s just not worth the risk – ask for help!

Here are a couple of DOs for plant pruning:

DO use pruning equipment. I prefer a bypass pruner (shown below). Don’t use your scissors on garden work – the cut won’t be good and you’ll just ruin your scissors.

Felco Pruner

DO clean and sharpen your pruning equipment!  Think of it like surgery – you’d rather your surgeon had a clean, sharp scalpel, right?

DO cut just above a bud/node. This helps the plant to continue growing naturally – it will look a lot better!

Nodes, Internodes

DO cut at a 45-degree angle rather than making a straight cut.

Where to prune, cutting angle 001

DO leave a large enough room between your cut and the bud.  This helps the plant heal quickly.


Again, I cannot stress this highly enough: When in doubt, ASK for help! Want our help?  Call or email Annika today!

Until then, happy gardening!

Office: 952-252-3301

Email: Annika@PetersonLawn.com

Annika is the horticulturalist at Peterson Lawn Services. Call (952) 929-0422 to schedule a free garden consultation today!

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