Pruning Leafy Shrubs

Pruning Leafy Shrubs

Pruning Leafy Shrubs

Most people are nervous about pruning; they are afraid pruning will harm their plants.

In general pruning, is good for most plants. Think of it as “giving them a haircut”.  

Here are some general pruning tips:

Small leafy shrubs (under 4’ tall)

Small leafy shrubs such as spireas, potentillas, and barberries should be pruned in the spring before they leaf out.

How much to prune

Trim off about 1/3 of the plant and shape the plant. You may take off a little more or less to make the plant a nice shape.

If there are dead branches, trim them completely out.

You can check if a branch is dead by scratching the bark. If the bark is green under the scratched area, it is a healthy branch. If the scratched area is brown that branch is dead.

Second Light Pruning

Mid-summer, these plants may start looking shaggy and have brown spent blooms.  It is good to do a second light pruning at this time. Trim off old brown blooms and re-shape the plant. Doing this may actually cause the plant to bloom again.

Large leafy shrubs (over 4’ tall)

Larger leafy shrubs such as viburnums, ninebark, snowberries, and hydrangeas should be pruned in early spring before they leaf out. 

How much to prune

Guidelines vary from plant to plant but in general shear off about 1/4th of the plant and shape. Completely remove any dead canes or branches. On hydrangeas, trim off any spent blooms that remain on the plant.

Miscellaneous Leafy Shrubs: Forsythias, Rhododendrons, Lilacs

Forsythias are one of the first plants to bloom in the spring. We wait to trim until after blooms are finished.

Rhododendrons and lilacs set their blooms for the next year mid-summer in to fall. If you do early spring trimming you will trim off some of your blooms.  Wait to trim these 2 varieties of plants until after they have bloomed. They can usually be trimmed in mid-June.

How much to prune

Remove about 1/3 of the total plant as above. On lilacs, thin out excess canes if the plant seems very dense.

Fall Trimming:

If you want to get a jump start on spring, you can do fall trimming. Wait until a hard frost and leaves have dropped.

Don’t know what kind of plant you have? Call us!

Still feel nervous about pruning? Call us!

We’re here to help!