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

Latest posts by Eddie Powell (see all)