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

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.