Plants to Prune in the Winter

Plants to Prune in the Winter

Why Prune Plants in the Winter?

Increase blooming, stimulate fruit production and enhance the form of your landscape trees, shrubs and grasses with winter pruning. This is a perfect time to begin your landscape cleanup in preparation for a beautiful spring.  Winter pruning ensures that the plants put their energy into growing the way you need them to, as soon as they wake up in spring.

Fruit and Nut Trees

Plants to Prune in the Winter

Fruit and nut trees benefit from winter pruning that opens the canopy to allow better light penetration. When more sunlight penetrates to the interior of the canopy, it gives those interior branches the energy to flower and set fruit more densely. Winter pruning is also important for improving and strengthening branch structure, especially in younger or “reclaimed” trees. It’s also time to remove weak or unproductive branches.

  • apples
  • peaches
  • pears
  • plums
  • pecans
  • almonds
  • walnuts should be pruned in late summer due to excessive sap flow from winter pruning.

Ornamental Grasses

Plants to Prune in the Winter

Perennial ornamental grasses, both evergreen and “deciduous,” should be pruned in late winter to remove “tired” foliage and allow the new year’s growth to fill in fully. If you enjoy the structure of the brown foliage and seed heads on maiden grasses through winter, that’s fine. Just be sure to remove that stuff before new growth begins in spring. Evergreen grasses like liriope can be refreshed by mowing them at the end of winter. The new foliage will look fresh and fantastic in no time. Established bamboos may benefit from thinning and dead stems should definitely be removed.

  • border grasses
  • bamboo
  • clumping grasses
  • rushes
  • sedges

Summer Blooming Shrubs

Plants to Prune in the Winter

Summer flowering shrubs may be pruned aggressively in late winter to increase flowers, thicken foliage or maintain size. Unlike spring bloomers, summer bloomers will flower profusely if they are pruned in winter. The difference is “old” wood versus “new” wood. Summer bloomers have flower buds that mature on the current year’s new growth or “new wood.” Winter pruning will cause more branching, which means dense foliage and more flowers. This is also a reason not to be concerned over reigning in overgrown butterfly bushes or knockout roses at this time of year: they will grow back and bloom perhaps better than before.

  • roses
  • butterfly bushes
  • rose of sharon
  • ninebark
  • smokebush
  • Hydrangea paniculata varieties
  • Hydrangea arborescens varieties
  • crape myrtles
  • abelia


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