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Best Time to Prune is Now Till Bud Break

eddie Sheers

As spring approaches, many gardeners get out the pruning shears and prune everything in sight. That might not be the best course of action! Take a look at these tips for flowering landscape shrubs to learn more about pruning techniques that will maximize amount of bloom.

Why Prune?

•          Control plant size or form

•          Remove damage (mechanical, disease, etc.)

•          Prevent potential damage (overlapping branches, poor crotch angles, diseases, etc.

•          Stimulate new growth (rejuvenate old plants, fill bare areas, increase flowering, etc.)


When to prune:

•          Corrective pruning due to injury or dead tissue should be done as soon as evident.

•          Avoid pruning from August 15 until plants are dormant.

•          Most pruning should be done during the dormant season or immediately after flowering.


Rules of thumb:

•          The “May Rule”.

•          May defined if the plant blooms before May 1, prune immediately after flowering has ended (flowers produced on old wood or last year’s growth: Azaleas, Forsythia, etc.)

•          If the plant blooms after May 1, prune during the dormant season (flowers produced on new growth: Crape Myrtles, Lilac Chaste tree, etc.).

•          As with any rule there are exceptions: Oak leaf Hydrangea.


General rules of Pruning:Eddie Hand Pruners

•          Local in affect (usually within 6” of cut).

•          Cuts should be made ¼” above a bud or to a crotch (Lateral branch).

•          Cuts should be made at angles.


Pruning Equipment: (Make sure blades are sharp)

•          Hand Snips (for small branches)

•          Loppers (branches > 0.75” in diameter)

•          Pruning Saw (limbs > 1.5” in diameter)

•          Shears (for a more formal look)

•          Pruning Knife (for clean-up)


Safe Pruning Principles:

•          Keep equipment clean and in good repair.

•          Appropriate, properly fitted safety equipment for job (eye and ear protection, no loose fitting clothes, etc.)

•          Keep equipment within your control zone. Don’t over extend, know the limitations of your equipment and yourself.

•          Know your surroundings (overhead utilities, other workers, etc.).

•          Be able to identify Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and other skin irritants.


Quick Tips to Remember:

•          Pruning: Remove dead wood and seed pods annually during the dormant season.

•          Size control should be done by cultivar selection, not by pruning.

•          To promote a second set of flowers, prune away faded or spent flowers throughout the season.


For more information, click here for a UF / IFAS Extension publication on proper pruning techniques.


     If you have any questions contact your local county extension agent.Eddie Loppers

by Eddie Powell – Walton County Extension Horticulture Agent


Author: Eddie Powell - pep5@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Educate the residents of Walton County who are unfamiliar with growing certain landscape and vegetable plants that grow in north Florida. Provide homeowners with information about why a good looking healthy lawn is important. Teaching proper fertilization and irrigation practices for successful backyard gardening and container gardening. Master Gardener Coordinator Develop in-school programs with use of Master Gardeners to reach school kids and youth. Also provide educational programs for developing community gardens and provide educational material at local festivals.

Permanent link to this article: http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/hort/2013/02/15/best-time-to-prune-is-now-till-bud-break/