pruning - Knowledgebase Question

Williston, Ve
Question by cfpiazza
November 14, 2009
I would like to prune back some overgrown shrubbery. It's is fall here in VT, though we have had several frosts, we are going through a warm spell. Is it okay to still prune, or should I wait. Pros and Cons...
You are very kind to help us


Answer from NGA
November 14, 2009


I'm glad you asked. Some gardeners prune whenever the pruning shears are sharp and they get away with it but I think the best approach is to wait until the shrubs are actively growing and then time the pruning so as not to remove any potential flowers. Here are the basics: pruning encourages new growth, which is what you want in the spring and summer months, but not this late in the fall. Any new growth that develops now will not have an opportunity to harden off before cold weather sets in and will most likely die back during the winter months. This means you'll need to prune off the winter kill next spring - so why not wait until spring to prune to begin with? Many flowering shrubs develop flower buds over the summer months for spring bloom. Pruning now can remove those flower buds and you won't get spring flowers. For spring flowering shrubs, it's best to wait until after they have finished flowering and prune them back so they have the entire summer to develop new flower buds for the following year's floral display. Other types of shrubs bloom on new growth. These types of shrubs can be pruned in early spring to encourage lots of new flowering growth. Evergreen shrubs, those that do not flower, should be pruned in the spring just as new growth begins. I guess the bottom line is to wait until spring to prune, with the exception of spring bloomers. Those should be pruned immediately after flowering has finished. Hope this clarifies things for you! Best wishes with your landscape!

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