The right time to prune flowering shrubs

  • Debra Smith
  • Wednesday, June 6, 2007 10:37am
  • Local News

Gardening would be a lot simpler if there were some magical day everything in the garden should be pruned and one standardized way to do it. There isn’t. Nature is gloriously diverse and it takes time to learn the needs of all the trees, shrubs, vines and perennials in a yard.

I wanted to share some guidelines for flowering shrubs. They fall into two general groups: those that flower on last season’s growth (these bloom in the spring) and those that flower from shoots produced this spring (these usually bloom after June).

To get maximum flower production, prune the spring bloomers such as azaleas and forsythias as soon as the flowers are done. That way these shrubs get plenty of time to produce new growth for next year. Prune the other group in late winter to promote lots of growth that spring.

Shrubs that bloom on last season’s growth (prune when flowering is finished):

Chinese redbud

Japanese quince

Fringe tree


Spring-flowering deutzia







Azelea and rhododendron

Rambling rose

Early white spirea



Old-fashioned weigela

Shrubs that bloom on the current season’s growth (wait to prune until late winter):

Glossy abelia

Butterfly bush

Japanese beauty bush



Shrub althea

Hills of snow

Peegee hydrangea

St. Johnswort

Crape myrtle

Bush rose

Anthony Waterer spirea

Mikado spirea

Coralberry and snowberry

Chaste tree

The lists of shrubs comes from the “Sustainable Gardening Master Gardener Handbook.”

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