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Pruning is All About Timing

2 min read | Jan 30, 2017 | Plants  Resources 

To prune or not to prune?  Such contemplation can lead to frustration.  Or, you may be the, “Just cut away, it’ll be alright!”, type.  There is a middle ground and it’s all about timing.   Proper pruning techniques applied in the correct season will promote vigor and health in your landscape.  The three basic pruning techniques are:

1.  Thinning – completely removing some branches back to a main branch or trunk. Be careful to not cut into the branch collar; doing so allows for infection.



2.  Renewal – removes one-third of the old, mature stems to ground level.



3.  Rejuvenation – severely cutting back the entire plant to 3″ above ground level. This allows for all new growth. (i.e. Butterfly Bush & Forsythia)



Knowing which technique is appropriate for each plant will make the “chore” of pruning less daunting.  Deciding on the correct time to prune can be broken down into 2 groups.  Pruning time in Group 1 is late winter to early spring and Group 2 is after the bloom cycle.  Here are some of our most popular plants broken into pruning groups:


Group 1 – Prune in late January to early March

  • Barberry
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa)
  • Burning Bush
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Fatsia (Aralia)
  • Liriope
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans)
  • Crepe Myrtle
  • Chaste Tree (Vitex)


Group 2 – Prune just after plant finishes flowering

  • Azalea
  • Cotoneaster
  • Forsythia
  • Gardenia
  • Hydrangea
  • Hollies – late April
  • Lilac
  • Loropetalum
  • Privet
  • Spiraea
  • Sweet Shrub
  • Viburnum
  • Weigela
  • Wisteria

azalea hosta fern fairy

Pruning a shrub or tree with the proper technique at the proper time will ensure you enjoy a beautiful landscape all season long.  We are always here to help with whatever questions or concerns you may have.  Be sure to refer to our list of Classes & Events to attend workshops on pruning, planting and more!
Let’s SPRING into action!
Nita H., Nursery Manager