When to Prune


When and how to prune each shrub or bush can be difficult to navigate. Here are a number of lists of when it is best 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

Bittersweet Need male and female to produce Prune only to keep suckers under control
Five-leaf Akebia Cut back heavy each winter
Honeysuckle Good for shady areas. Prune heavily during the summer, thin out vines and remove suckers after blooming.
Wisteria Questionable in Ottawa’s climate Prune in spring and again late summer
Silver Lace Vine Very fast growing. Prune when dormant
Boston Ivy Red fall colour Prune Anytime
Virginia Creeper Very Hardy, red fall colour Prune Anytime
Climbing Hydrangea Excellent for shady areas Prune in Early Spring
Ivy Excellent ground covers as well as vines Prune Anytime
Trumpet Vine Available in yellow, red and orange Prune 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

Description Type of Pruning Time of Pruning
Ash Prune lower limbs, otherwise minimal pruning is needed Fall
Birch Prune to train when young, and to show off bark Late Summer, Early Fall
Crabapple Follow recommendations for apples Late Winter
Ginkgo Basal pruning only to emphasize tree’s height, as little as possible Fall
Honey locust Try to prune to a strong central leader as much as possible Late Summer
Horse Chestnut Prune off lower limbs or damaged limbs as need be Late Summer
Lilac Prune after flowering Early to Late Summer
Linden Late Summer
Maple Prune out dead wood and to shape. Late Summer, Never in Late Winter or Spring
Oak Prune out dead, diseased, and broken wood. Late Summer


Pruning Evergreens

Creeping Junipers Snip out outer ends and dead branches Spring and Summer, not past late August
Cedars Regular sheering Sheer several times a growing season, not during extreme drought or stress
Euonymus Trim out dead and to shape Throughout growing season, not during extreme drought or stress
Pine & Spruce Shear 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 Junipers Shear to shape as need be Throughout 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.