Garden adventures and advice…

Spring Pruning

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So, now we’ve cleaned up the garden and here’s hoping the weather is improving in your part of the world. Next comes spring pruning.

Here’s the basic rules…

Prune out dead wood and diseased or injured limbs any time throughout the year as needed. Removing the damaged wood will only help the rest of the plant to develop new, strong shoots.

Prune spring flowering shrubs after flowering. Plants that bloom in early spring usually produce their flower buds the year before. The buds over-winter on the previous year’s growth and open in spring. If you prune these spring bloomers in fall or winter you’ll remove the flower buds and won’t have flowers that year. The plants will be ok, but you’ll miss a year of blooms. (Lilacs are a classic – as soon as the flowering is finished – prune!)

Prune summer flowering shrubs in late winter or early spring. Many summer flowering shrubs bloom on the current year’s growth. Pruning them back in later winter encourages them to produce plenty ‘O new growth that summer and will result in more flowers. 

However, there are two exceptions to the rule………

Hydrangeas- Some bloom on ‘old wood’ while others bloom on ‘new wood’ – know your plant type before pruning.  Pruning at the wrong time won’t hurt the plant, but you may miss out on a year of spectacular blooms.

Clematis (Yikes!)

Clematis are on a whole different planet when it comes to pruning. There are three different bloom and prune times. But remember this – If it blooms before June – Don’t Prune!

Know your clematis before you prune…

Group 1/A – flowers in spring on old wood. Prune after flowering (summer) – light pruning only to remove dead or damaged wood only.

Group 2/B – flowers early summer and has repeat blooms later in the season – flowers on both old and new wood. Prune after flowering in late fall or winter. Remove dead wood adn cut to 12″ or so every couple of years – that’s all it needs.

Group 3/C – flowers late summer on new wood. Prune after flowering in late winter or early spring. Hard prune this one to 12″, ensuring a few strong buds remain – will give you plenty of strong, new wood for spectacular blooms!




Author: gardenchatter

I'm a Horticulturalist, Master Gardener and member of the Garden Writers Association who enjoys playing in the dirt and experimenting with different veggies, plants and flowers in my Zone 5 garden. Check out my website With a recent addition of a greenhouse, my newest passion is growing-your-own. And what fun that is. Yes, there's the odd failure, but there's nothing quite as satisfying as walking through the veggie patch collecting dinner.

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