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When To Prune


Pruning Times for Flowering Shrubs


Prune in Early Spring or when Dormant               Prune After Flowering

Beautyberry                                                                Barberry

Broom                                                                         Beautybush

Butterfly Bush                                                                        Butterfly Bush

Cotoneaster                                                                 Daphne

Dogwood                                                                    Elder

Euonymus                                                                   Flowering Almond

False Spirea                                                                 Forsythia

Hibiscus                                                                      Honeysuckle

Hydrangea                                                                  Kerria

Potentilla                                                                     Lilac

Snowberry                                                                   Magnolia

Sorbaria                                                                       Ninebark

Spirea that bloom in summer                                      Purple Leaf Sandcherry

Smoke Bush

Spring Flowering Spirea, Bridal Wreath




Pruning Vines

Group 1 Clematis (Flowers on previous seasons growth, prune all dead and weak stems immediately after flowering)

Alpina Constance                                                        Macropetala Pauline

Alpina Helsingborg                                                     Macropetala Rosy O’Grady

Alpina Pink Flamingo                                                 Montana Freda

Alpina Willy                                                                Montana Grandiflora

Macropetala Blue Bird                                                Montana Pink Perfection

Macropetala Jan Lindmark                                         Montana Rubens

Marcopetala Markham’s Pink                                     Montana Tetrarose


Group 2 Clematis (Flowers on previous season’s growth in May to June, and again in September on the currents season’s growth; prune late winter/early spring, removing dead leaves at each stage of pruning)

Alabast                                                                        Ken Donson

Anna Louise                                                                Lemon Chiffon

Arctic Queen                                                               Liberationi

Asao                                                                            Lincoln Star

Bees Jubilee                                                                Louise Rowe

Blue Ravine                                                                Marie Biosselot

Carnaby                                                                       Miss Bateman

Countess of Lovelace                                                 Multi-Blue

Dr. Ruppel                                                                  Nelly Moser

Duchess of Edinburgh                                                            Niobe

Elsa Spath                                                                   Pink Champagne

General Sikorski                                                          Royalty

Gillian Blades                                                             Ruby Glow

Guernsey Cream                                                         Snow Queen

Guiding Star                                                               The President

Henryi                                                                         Josephine


Group 3 Clematis (Flowers on current season’s growth; prune late winter/early spring; remove dead leaves at each stage of pruning)

Blue Angel                                                                  Rhapsody

Comtesse De Bouchard                                              Rouge Cardinal

Ernest Markham                                                          Tangutica

Florida Plena                                                               Terniflora

Gypsy Queen                                                              Texensis

Hagley Hybrid                                                                        Ville De Lyon

Jackmanii                                                                    Viticella Carmencita

Jackmanii Superba                                                      Viticella Etoile Violette

Lilancina Floribunda                                                   Viticella Madame Julia Correvon

Madam Baron Veillard                                               Viticella Polish Spirit

Madam Edouard Andre                                              Viticella Purpurea Plena

Perle D’Azure                                                             Viticella Purpurea Plena Elegans

Pink Fantasy

Other Vines

BittersweetNeed male and female to producePrune only to keep suckers under control
Five-leaf AkebiaCut back heavy each winter
HoneysuckleGood for shady areas.Prune heavily during the summer, thin out vines and remove suckers after blooming.
WisteriaQuestionable in Ottawa’s climatePrune in spring and again late summer
Silver Lace VineVery fast growing.Prune when dormant
Boston IvyRed fall colourPrune Anytime
Virginia CreeperVery Hardy, red fall colourPrune Anytime
Climbing HydrangeaExcellent for shady areasPrune in Early Spring
IvyExcellent ground covers as well as vinesPrune Anytime
Trumpet VineAvailable in yellow, red and orangePrune after flowers and to keep from being too heavy


Pruning Fruit Trees

Apples, Cherries and Pears

The best time to prune the fruit trees are in the late winter.  The main reasons for this is that there is a good chance that you will get winter die back and with this being a real possibility it is best to do your pruning after this has happened.  The tree should be dormant so as to minimize the possibility of losing a lot of sap from bleeding.  This is the general rule if you are doing regular and routine pruning.

If you are doing major cutting and reshaping, this should be done in fall so as to not stimulate too much new growth in the early spring.  Once the tree is reshaped properly you may then go back to pruning in the late winter while the tree is dormant.


Shade Trees

DescriptionType of PruningTime of Pruning
AshPrune lower limbs, otherwise minimal pruning is neededFall
BirchPrune to train when young, and to show off barkLate Summer, Early Fall
CrabappleFollow recommendations for applesLate Winter
GinkgoBasal pruning only to emphasize tree’s height, as little as possibleFall
Honey locustTry to prune to a strong central leader as much as possibleLate Summer
Horse ChestnutPrune off lower limbs or damaged limbs as need beLate Summer
LilacPrune after floweringEarly to Late Summer
LindenLate Summer
MaplePrune out dead wood and to shape.Late Summer, Never in Late Winter or Spring
OakPrune out dead, diseased, and broken wood.Late Summer


Pruning Evergreens

Creeping JunipersSnip out outer ends and dead branchesSpring and Summer, not past late August
CedarsRegular sheeringSheer several times a growing season, not during extreme drought or stress
EuonymusTrim out dead and to shapeThroughout growing season, not during extreme drought or stress
Pine & SpruceShear as needed to maintain level of thickness wanted.If the tree is large enough, let candles grow to one inch then clip them off completely, otherwise let them grow to 2-4” long, and pinch off the end.
Upright JunipersShear to shape as need beThroughout the growing season, not during extreme drought or stress

Pruning Perennials


It is very beneficial to deadhead your perennials so as to encourage more blooming.  If you allow dead flowers to move on to seed pods, the plant stops producing flowers, whereas if you deadhead the seed pods, the perennials automatically pushes more blooms.



Cut your perennials back after the first frost to 3” above the ground to allow for easier disease control and a cleaner garden.  It is always wise to mulch your perennials before winter to help insulate them against a hard winter.


Pruning Annuals


Much like perennials, but more importantly, annuals should be deadheaded as soon as the flowers start to end.  This will help to encourage a fuller plant.


Thickening up

Annuals will also benefit from pinching and trimming to help thicken them up.  If allowed to grow too tall at times, some will become spindly.  By pinching the plant back, a stockier, heavier plant can be developed.



Pruning Hydrangeas


Pruning Hydrangeas


FIRST, it’s important to know that mophead hydrangeas do not have to be pruned back – ever – unless they are very old. Removing dead stems is the only pruning that must be done for the health of the plant, and these can be removed at any time. Dead blooms can also be removed at any time.

But if your hydrangea is getting much too large (or old), and you simply must prune it, use one of the following methods.

Use Method One if you have mophead or lacecap hydrangeas (these are the only type hydrangeas that are usually blue or pink) or if you have Oakleaf hydrangeas (leaves shaped like large oak leaves, white blooms).

Use Method Two if you have paniculatas (PeeGees) or ‘Annabelle’ (arborescens). Both PeeGee and ‘Annabelle’ bloom white.




USE METHOD I FOR: Mophead and Lacecaps (macrophyllas – usually pink or blue)
For Oakleaf hydrangeas (white blooms, leaves shaped like oak leaves)


Summary of Method I:
Prune these hydrangeas only in the summer BEFORE August (to be safe). Some experts believe these hydrangeas may be pruned even into August, but this might be risky. The hydrangeas may already have set their bloom buds for the next year.

Method I is for hydrangea types that bloom on OLD WOOD. (“Old Wood” are stems that have been on the hydrangea since the summer before the current season. “New wood” are stems that developed on the plant during the current season) This group of hydrangeas produce flower buds on hydrangea stems around August, September or October for the following summer’s blooms. If those stems are removed (pruned) in the fall, winter, or spring, the bloom buds will be removed, and there may be little or no bloom the following summer (usually June/July for the northern hemisphere).

Note that pruning is not the same thing as removing the dead blooms. (See below “Removing Old Blooms.”) There exists a small group of mophead hydrangea that will bloom no matter when they are pruned. (‘Endless Summer’ is this type of hydrangea). Your garden center can tell you when you purchase a hydrangea if it is in this special category called “everbloomers.” But for the vast majority of hydrangeas, pruning after July will likely result in fewer blooms the next summer.



(1) All dead stems should be removed from hydrangeas every year.

(2) After the plants are at least 5 years old, about 1/3 of the older (living) stems can be removed down to the ground each summer. This will revitalize the plant.

(3) In addition, if it becomes necessary to prune a plant to reduce its size, it may be cut back in June or July without harming the next year’s bloom. But it will return almost immediately to it’s former size. This is one reason why it’s best to plant a hydrangea where it does not have to be pruned.


EXCEPTIONS: For all mophead hydrangeas, the above method of pruning (Method I) will work very well. However, one may become confused when a neighbor or friend prunes his or her hydrangea at the “wrong” time, i.e. in the fall or spring, and then his hydrangea blooms just fine.

Unlike most mophead hydrangeas, there are a few that will regenerate the bloom buds they are cut off (destroyed). These hydrangeas are known as ‘remontant’. They seem to be found most abundantly in gardens in the northern regions of the U.S. and Canada. Therefore, on these special hydrangeas, if the bloom buds are killed by frost or pruned off at the wrong time, they will regenerate the bloom bud and bloom as usual. (‘Endless Summer’ is just such a hydrangea.)


For paniculata (such as PG and ‘Limelight’) and ‘Annabelle’

Method II is USED FOR: H. arborescens (Annabelle types) and H. paniculata (PeeGee types) hydrangeas. These types of hydrangeas bloom on new wood (new stems). It is a joy to grow these type hydrangeas because they are determined to bloom every single year, no matter how they are treated. The only time they cannot be pruned is in the spring (‘Annabelle’) or in the summer (PG) when they are preparing to bloom.

Many people grow hedges of Annabelle and cut them within a few inches of the ground each fall so they will not be an eyesore during the winter. They will still bloom beautifully in the spring/summer, however this drastic pruning may not allow stems to increase in size, and they may need staking to hold up the large heads. Go to the page on ‘Annabelle’ for a more detailed description of the pros and cons of pruning this hydrangea to the ground. While at the ‘Annabelle’ page, view a picture of Penny McHenry’s ‘Annabelle’ hedge.


Paniculatas (PG/Limelight types) can be pruned in the fall, winter, or spring. However, it is not necessary to prune them every year. It is suggested that one trim out crossing branches and those that do not contribute to an attractive form whenever necessary.

Paniculata hydrangeas are the only hydrangeas that can be pruned into a tree-form. If one is attempting to grow a paniculata as a tree, the developing trunk and main top branches should not be removed. If a panicultata that is trained into a tree-form is cut or broken off close to the ground, it will grow back as a shrub unless the training and pruning is started again from t

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