What you Need to Know about Fall Pruning
Want to jump start your fall pruning? Wondering what to prune, when, and how much? Here are some suggestions ----
Shrubs that should not be trimmed in the fall:
Lilacs and rhododendrons set flower buds in the summer and early fall for the next season. If you trim in the fall it will not hurt the plant, but you will trim off many of your next season blooms. In the fall, trim out dead branches but do minimal trimming to shape the plants.
Shrubs that are better trimmed in the late fall:
The fall colors of shrubs such as burning bush, viburnums, sumac, some spireas, some barberries etc. add so much splendor to a fall day. If you trim in the early fall, it will not hurt the plant, but you will trim off a lot of your fall color. In early fall, trim out dead branches and lightly shape the plant, but we suggest you wait until leaves drop to do the main fall pruning. Hydrangeas also fall into this category. You can trim off the blooms and dry to enjoy all winter long, and you can also shape the shrub at this time.
Shrubs to prune in early or late fall:
Shrubs that do not fall in to the 2 categories above may be trimmed any time in the fall. Some of these include potentilla, some spireas, some barberries, weigelias, dogwoods, ninebarks, forsythia, etc.
How much to prune:
Fall pruning will get your plant ready for spring. Trim out dead branches and, in general, you may safely trim most plants back about 1/3. If plants have become very over-grown you may trim back as much as ½ of the plant.
We would suggest you only do a light trimming on evergreen shrubs in the fall, unless they are very overgrown. During hard winters evergreen shrubs sometimes get winter burn. By waiting to trim in the spring, you will often then be able to trim away some or all of any winter burn. Trim and shape in the late spring.
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And as a bonus.. we put together a FREE DOWNLOADABLE and PRINTABLE cheat sheet for Fall pruning…