Proper Pruning Tips

Most plants benefit from regular pruning and maintenance. The key to proper pruning is knowing when to prune and what to prune.

In general, the best time to prune most plants is during late winter or early spring before growth begins.

The least desirable time is immediately after new growth develops in the spring. A great amount of food stored in roots and stems is used in developing new growth. This food should be replaced by new foliage before it is removed; if not, considerable dwarfing of the plant may occur. This is a common problem encountered in pruning. Many flowering and fruiting plants prefer to be pruned while they are dormant, in late winter through early spring. Some, like spring blooming trees and shrubs, will start setting new buds as soon as the old buds have fallen. These will need to be pruned shortly after flowering, or you risk pruning off the new buds with the old. Other plants need to be continually pruned, to remain vigorous and in flower.

Although pruning can be confusing, it is rarely fatal. Pruning at the wrong time of year may result in less flowers and fruits, but it usually won’t harm the plant in the long run. There is one exception: If pruning occurs too late in the season, the tender, new growth will be killed with the onset of winter weather.


It also is advisable to limit the amount of pruning done late in summer as new growth may be encouraged on some plants. This growth may not have sufficient time to harden off before cold weather arrives resulting in cold damage or winter kill.

Prune plants damaged by storms or vandalism or ones with dead limbs as soon as possible to avoid additional insect and disease problems that may develop.

Have questions about when and what to prune? The experts at The Family Tree Garden Center located in Snellville, GA, can help! Give us a call at 770-972-2470 or stop by our greenhouse to discuss all of the do’s and don’ts of pruning.