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Garden with a Winner!™

Pruning Rules

Pruning should enhance the natural shape and performance of your shrub. But if you are happy with the size, shape, and performance of a shrub, you don’t need to prune it! Simple as that!

Reasons to Prune:

  • prune to remove dead or damaged wood or diseased branches
  • improve shape or create special effects (hedge or topiary)
  • rejuvenate old plants
  • promote flowering (some shrubs like roses and butterfly bush produce more flowers if you prune them in spring)
  • encourage reblooming (Bloomerang® Lilacs for example)
  • prune to encourage fruit production, or colorful stems or foliage
  • prune to keep a shrub smaller than it usually grows

When you select your flowering shrubs take into consideration how big the plant can grow (the ultimate size) and also where you want to place it! That will make your gardening much easier, you will have less care and less pruning!

Pruned Porch Pots

When Should You Prune?

Avoid pruning flowering shrubs in late summer or autumn as this can stimulate tender new growth which can be damaged by cold temperatures.

Knowing if your plant flowers on new or old wood helps you determine when it’s the best time to prune.

Spring flowering shrubs bloom on “old wood”- on the previous season’s growth- so the flowers actually developed on the plant late last summer. For maximum flower production next year, prune spring-flowering shrubs immediately after they bloom.

Summer and early-autumn flowering shrubs bloom on the current season’s growth or “new wood”. These plants should be pruned in late winter or just as growth starts in spring.

How to Prune:

  • Use clean, very sharp, good-quality tools. Disinfect them with diluted alcohol or chlorine between plants to help prevent spreading diseases.
  • Make your cuts as small as possible. Smaller cuts  heal more quickly than larger, slanted cut.
  • Remove any dead and diseased wood. When removing old stems, cut them as close to the base as possible.
  • Cut back the suckers. They are easy to detect as they usually do NOT make flowers and fruit, and grow vertical to the trunk.
  • Remove branches that are crossing  or rubbing against each other.
  • For good air circulation, keep the centre of the shrub open, removing long stems that are growing toward the middle of the plant.
  • Always make the cut just ABOVE the bud! Not under and not on the bud.
  • Do not leave stubs above the buds. They are an entry way for diseases and insects! Pruning cuts must have a smooth surface to heal properly.

 

Plants DO NOT die if you leave them unpruned but may be killed or disfigured from a drastic pruning.

If you are in doubt, don’t prune! Pruning tips for Clematis and Hydrangea.