The Q&A Archives: Shrubs

Question: Is it okay to prune new growth off shrubs that bloom on old wood, throughout the season to maintain a manicured appearance (natural, not formal).
I know of the shrubs that produce there blooms the present year for the following year to blossom (many lilacs, rhododendron etc.
It is the shrubs like forsythia, wegelia, japanese barberries, etc. that I ask for your advice on.



Answer: It's probably not a good idea to prune spring blooming shrubs without first checking carefully for developing flower buds. Hydrangea, for instance, produces flowers on new shoots which develop on old wood so it would be safe to prune them during the summer to keep them looking uniform. However, Lilacs and rhododendrons spend all summer developing flower buds for the following spring's floral display. If you prune the plants in July, you'll be pruning off next year's flowers. Forsythia, weigela and barberry can be pruned back now without harming next year's display. Best wishes with your landscape!

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