Simple garden maintenance like pruning doesn’t have to be complicated and helps to create a beautiful garden. Learn some basic pruning tips on what to prune, when, and how to do it.
Many people new to gardening fear basic pruning of their plants. Though it may seem complicated you can maintain your garden pretty easily by following a few simple steps. The key to flowering plants is knowing when they produce their flower buds so that you don’t remove all the branches before they have a chance to put on their show.
Sharpen and clean your hand pruners and loppers and prepare for spring pruning with the following basic tips:
Basic Pruning Tips
What Do You Need to Prune?
Everything may need a little pruning specifically:
- Any dead materials which include many perennials which you decided not to cut back before winter.
- Crossing branches of shrubs; prune to the base.
- Suckers on trees and other grafted plants that are coming up from the base.
When Should You Prune?
Late Winter/Early Spring for the following:
- Shrubs that bloom on new wood (flower buds will form on this year’s growth) including butterfly bush (Buddleia), beautyberry (Callicarpa), oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia), hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ (H. arborescens), hydrangea ‘Limelight’( H. paniculata)
Plants that bloom on old wood began producing buds last year and should be pruned after they flower.
- Mophead hydrangeas (H macrophylla), azalea, forsythia, weigela, spirea, rhododendron
- Clematis – if it blooms before June don’t prune
Where On The Plant Should You Prune?
- 6 to 8 inches for butterfly bushes, and beautyberry bushes for all canes/branches. Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ can also be cut back vigorously although new canes may have trouble holding the weight of the large flowers. I usually cut some way back and cut others only slightly.
- ¼ to 1/3 of all canes/branches on others that are crowded and need to be rejuvenated.
- To create a specific or natural shape that you like.
How Exactly Do You Prune Plants?
When cutting back or shaping cut 45-degree angle, generally above a leaf or flower node.
Plants like grasses can be sheared to ground level.
Want More? Check out this Pruning Cheat Sheet.