Prune Spring-Flowering Shrubs

If you haven’t already done it, now is the time to judiciously prune shrubs that have finished flowering. Pruning any later in the year can affect new growth and next year’s bloom. Popular spring-flowering ornamentals include:

  • Azalea
  • Daphne
  • Deutzia
  • Forsythia
  • Jasmine
  • Lilac
  • Mock orange
  • Mountain laurel
  • Rhododendron
  • Viburnum

Although many shrubs will grow into attractive specimens without ever being pruned, there are good reasons for pruning to enhance the appearance and health of the plant:

  1. Removal of dead, broken, or diseased branches
  2. Correction of structural defects, such as imbalanced growth
  3. Rejuvenation of old shrubs
  4. Providing clearance for sidewalks, utility wires, windows, etc.
  5. Encouragement of new growth and bud production

If you decide to prune a spring-flowering shrub, do it as soon as possible after the blooms wilt, use sharp tools to make clean cuts, and follow experts’ guidelines such as those in the book “All About Pruning.” Pruning is not difficult when you know what to do, and “All About Pruning” offers specific guidance on how and when to prune more than 280 trees, shrubs, and vines. Proper pruning can make a significant difference in improving not only the shape of a shrub, but in the production of blossoms as well.

Many plant diseases start in rubble, litter or weeds. Regularly remove diseased and dead plant parts from the garden, but don’t put diseased plants in the compost. Sterilize pruning tools to prevent the spread of disease.