When to Prune Shrubs and Bushes


Most homeowners prune their shrubs to keep them at the desired size and shape. Pruning also increases the health of the shrub by removing old and damaged wood. However, shrubs are not all pruned at the same time of year. Pruning the shrub at the wrong point in its growth cycle can be bad for the plant's health and can prevent it from blooming.

Time Frame

  • Some shrubs bloom in the summer or fall on new growth, made in the current growing season. Other shrubs bloom in the spring on old growth, made in the previous growing season.

Type 1

  • Shrubs that bloom on new wood, grown in the current season, should be pruned in late winter or early spring. It should be done before seasonal growth begins.


  • Roses, caryopteris, buddleia, rose of Sharon, and many other summer or fall blooming shrubs are pruned in early spring.

Type 2

  • Shrubs that bloom on old wood, holding their dormant buds over the winter, should be pruned after they bloom.


  • Forsythia, flowering quince, lilac, and other spring blooming shrubs should all be pruned after flowering.

Type 3

  • Both broadleaf and needled evergreen shrubs can be pruned at any time, but early in the season is best. That gives the shrubs time to mature new growth before cold weather arrives.


  • Shrubs that have been injured by weather, foraging animals or vandalism should have the damaged wood removed immediately.

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