Ask An Expert: Should I be pruning in Winter?

Our Plant Experts are constantly answering questions (that's what they're here for), so we plucking out and answering the popular ones, right when they're asked the most. On the docket: WINTER PRUNING

winter-pruning
Late winter and early spring are prime times to prune certain deciduous plants. In winter, these plants are dormant and pruning them will encourage new growth in spring. It’s also easier to prune in winter when less foliage is blocking your view.
— Mary-Ann M., Prairie Gardens Plant Expert

Prune Late These Winter & Early Spring

Summer and fall blooming deciduous shrubs & trees. 

  • Butterfly Bushes
  • Hardy Hibiscus
  • Potentilla Pee Gee Hydrangea
  • Arborescens Smooth Hydrangea
  • Hyrid Tea Roses
  • Hypericum St. Johnswort
  • Japanese Maples
  • Fruit Trees

As a general rule, you should prune according to a plant’s bloom time. Prune spring bloomers after they flower and prune summer and fall bloomers in late winter or early spring.
— Jim H., Prairie Gardens Plant Expert

Wait to Prune These 

Spring blooming deciduous shrubs & trees should be pruned after flowering.

  • Forsythia 
  • Lilacs
  • Weigelia
  • Mock Orange
  • Climbing and Shrub Roses
  • Viburnum
  • Wisteria

While you should wait to prune most spring-flowering shrubs, you can remove damaged, dead or broken wood anytime to relieve stress on your plants.
— John W., Prairie Gardens Plant Expert

Prune These Trees mid-summer through fall 

Some trees have heavy sap flow in early spring which can be unsightly, although it does not injure plants. Prune these mid-summer through fall to avoid this.

  • Maple
  • Birch
  • Dogwood
  • Elm
  • Walnut
  • Yellowood


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