Pruning Tips

When cutting back small branches make the cut at a 45-degree angle just above a leaf. A new branch will develop from the bud that is at the leaf attachment. The new branch will grow out in the direction that the leaf points. In this way the shape of the plant material can be controlled.

Maintain the natural shape of the plant.

For a trimmed hedge be sure the base is wider than the top to allow light penetration and prevent leaf loss and exposure of the lower branches.

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Cut out any inward facing, crossing, or rubbing branches.

Remove some of the older branches on shrubs each year to their point of origin. This will stimulate new growth and improve flowering. This will also increase light penetration and air circulation and help prevent diseases. This is especially good for lilacs.

Remove any dead, damaged or diseased wood as it occurs. If pruning diseased wood, dip pruners in alcohol before pruning any other plant material.

  • Bypass Pruners should be used to cut live growth and will give a smooth, accurate cut, close to the main trunk of the plant.
  • Damaged or improper growth: This includes limbs that are rubbing against one another, which will expose irregular surfaces leaving it open to infection.
  • Diseased or insect damaged portions. 
  • Dead limbs, branches, etc. Pruning dead out of a plant will help ward off disease and insect infestation. How to tell if it is dead? Lightly scrape the branch; a healthy branch will reveal a green layer below the bark.
  • Crowded Stems: Thinning helps encourage new growth, by allowing more light to reach into the shrub. Start by removing old stems that have slowed in their flower production, and then remove some of the youngest stems so the remaining stems have room to grow.
  • Suckers: Vigorous vertical stems the grow around the base of the tree. Remove suckers while they’re young-grab them and give a sharp yank sideways ripping them away at their growing point, or cut off as close to the growing point as possible.

Pruning Flowering Trees and Shrubs

Any tree or shrub that blooms before June, prune after the plant has finished flowering. Anything that blooms after June, prune away! (It will promote growth and blooms)  Do not prune after July, this is when the buds set for next spring.


Spirea, hydrangea, roses and anything that blooms after June


Shrubs – Lilacs, Viburnums, Boxwoods, Yews, Weigela and Ninebark

Flowering Trees – Crabapples, Dogwoods, Redbuds, Flowering Cherry, Magnolias except Sweet Bay, Ornamental Pear, Japanese Maple

Pruning Hydrangeas:

Hydrangeas do not usually need to be pruned, except to remove dead steams and blooms. However, if you feel your hydrangea is getting too large, use one of the two methods:

Method I: For Pink/Blue & Oakleaf hydrangeas
These hydrangeas bloom on old wood-stems that have been on the hydrangea at least 9 to 10 months before the hydrangea blooms). Prune these hydrangeas only in the summer Before August (flower buds will begin to set Early Fall-Aug. thru Oct.)
The exception to this rule are the new ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas which bloom on old and new wood, so therefore can be pruned before or after bloom.

Method II: for PeeGee & Annabelle hydrangeas (white)
Cut back in spring before leaves emerge.