What Not to Prune in Spring

Warm weather have you itching to start cleaning up your landscape beds? Be careful when pruning so to not prune the wrong plants. The exception to the pruning rule is when you are removing dead/diseased branches or rubbing/crossing branches. Those can generally be removed at any time.

Do NOT prune the following:

  • Lilacs should only be pruned immediately after they have finishing flowering. Their new buds will form very soon after the old flowers finish and you don’t want to remove them so timing by pruning right after flowering has finished this year sets up your plant for gorgeous blooms next year.
  • Forsythia buds develop on old wood so wait to prune until flowers have bloomed and faded. For the best blooms, keep the natural shape of the Forsythia and avoid trimming into a hedge
  • Rhododendrons & Oakleaf Hydrangeas also bloom on old wood and the first flush of flowers will come bloom on last year’s wood. Immediately after flowers have faded, give a light pruning to encourage more blooms later in the Spring.
  • Azaleas should also be pruned immediately after flowerings have faded. Reblooming Azaleas must be pruned immediately after flowering in order to keep the next cycle of flowers.
  • Weigelia follow the same rules as the other and should be pruned immediately after flowers have faded as they bloom on last year’s wood.

Matt, our tree & shrub manager, has a general rule that any Spring flowering shrubs that bloom before June 1st should not be pruned in Spring. If you aren’t sure about something, just give us a call or e-mail us at info@evergreenofch.com


DO prune the following:

  • Summer & fall blooming Clematis – if you aren’t sure about your variety then call and check with us. While cultivars such as Clematis jackmanii are best pruned in early Spring, there are other spring blooming cultivars that should not be pruned this time of year.
  • False Sunflowers (Helianthus) should be pruned to the ground this Spring if you haven’t already
  • Black Eyed Susans & Coneflowers should be pruned 3-6″ above the soil.
  • Holly & Boxwood can be lightly trimmed and shaped
  • Butterfly Bushes (the recent freeze may have damaged yours back to the ground anyways – keep an eye out for more e-mails on that) but if the freeze damage did not get them you can go ahead and prune to 6-12″ above the ground
  • Crape Myrtles can be pruned to shape or remove crossed/rubbing branches. Avoid chopping off the tops and leaving bare stumps as it affects growth patterns, removes strong branches and replaces them with weaker branches that often can’t hold up the larger blooms come summer.

We always encourage you to contact us if you aren’t sure about a particular tree or shrub. 423-245-GROW or info@evergreenofch.com

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