When and How to Prune Landscape Plants
When, how, and if you should prune depends on the type of plant or tree you have and your goal for the plant. Late spring is the best time to prune spring flowering plants.
Pruning is one of the least understood gardening tasks and for good reason – it’s confusing.
When, how, and if you should prune depends on the type of plant or tree you have and your goal for the plant. Do you want to keep it a certain shape and size? Do you need to remove dead or damaged limbs and branches? Do you want to stimulate flowering? Do you want to create a specific form, such as a topiary? Or do you just need to trim a limb so you can see the oncoming traffic?
Pruning should take place after the plant’s landscape feature has passed. In most cases, you want to prune after a plant has flowered or the berries have faded.
Late spring is the best time to prune spring flowering plants. Pruning these plants just after their flowers fade gives them plenty of time to produce new flower buds during the summer.
Here are some pruning chores for late spring and summer from Extension Publication 3437, “Calendar of Home Gardening Chores in Mississippi.”
- Prune azaleas, camellias and gardenias after flowers drop and before new buds form.
- Cutting for bouquets regularly will keep your plants pruned and prolong the blooming season. Cut in early morning or late afternoon and put into water immediately.
- Prune oleanders after blooming ends.
- Pinch dahlias and mums to ensure a compact growth habit.
- Remove blackberry fruiting canes after harvest. Prune new canes to encourage side branching. For more information about growing blackberries, read Extension Publication 3410, “Establishing a Home Fruit Orchard,” Extension Publication 3067, “Chilling-Hour Requirements for Fruit Crops,” and Extension Information Sheet 1444, “Fruit and Nut Review – Blackberries.”
- Remove faded flowers from daisies, daylilies, and other summer flowers.
- Remove faded flowers from crape myrtle to encourage a second blooming.
- Cut back mum height by half before July 15.
- When cutting boxwoods into a hedge, make sure the bases are wider than the tops to allow sunlight to reach the bases of the plants.
- Prune roses to encourage blooms. Find more information about pruning and deadheading roses in the roses section of our website.
- Cut back annuals such as impatiens and vincas to encourage fall blooms.
- Disbud camellias, dahlias, and chrysanthemums for specimen blooms to enter in flower shows.
- Cut back rose canes to 24–30 inches from the ground for autumn blooms.
You can find more information about monthly gardening tasks in Extension Publication 3437, “Calendar of Home Gardening Chores in Mississippi.”
For more information about how to prune, when to prune, pruning techniques, and the best tools for the job, refer to Extension Publication 3589, “Pruning Landscape Plants.”
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