How and When to Prune Plants

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How and When to Prune Plants

Plants, whether grown indoors or outdoors, require regular pruning to keep them in shape. However, overpruning can be harmful to a plant so it’s important to know when to prune which plants. Often, flowering and fruiting plants need to be pruned while they are not in bloom while others, like trees and shrubs that bloom in spring, need the old buds to be pruned in order to bloom new ones. Other plants require pruning all year round. It can get a little confusing to keep track of when to prune which plants, but the worst thing that can happen is that the plant might produce less blooms and fruits.


Tools for Pruning Plants

If gardeners are in the learning stages of gardening, pruning can seem like a daunting task. Making sure to have all the right tools on hand makes the process much easier and can help make a garden look its best. There are a number of basic tools that will help any gardener do a great job pruning.

  • Hand Pruners have short, thick blades and are great for cutting stems and branches up to 1" thick.

  • Loppers have long handles and very short, sturdy blades. They are helpful for cutting thick branches that are high or hard to reach.

  • Shears look like heavy-duty scissors and are helpful for trimming leaves and branches that are long but not necessarily difficult to cut through.

  • A Saw is needed for branches that are 6" thick or more.

The gardener should be sure to have all of these tools on hand before starting to prune. It’s always best to buy the highest quality possible tools because they do end up lasting longer and being more effective than cheaper tools. Also, gardeners should be sure to keep tools clean and sharp, as dirt can be full of plant disease and tools can transfer disease from one plant to the next.


Shrubs, Vines, and Flowering Trees

This plant category contains three very different plants that require pruning at different times throughout the year.

Shrubs and Flowering Trees

These typically bloom in spring and so should be pruned mid-autumn. If they have grown particularly large, they can be pruned earlier, but be careful not to lose too many blooms in the process.


Clematis blooms on its own schedule, but generally it is best to prune them back just after they’ve finished blooming. This will ensure that they have room to continue growing for the next bloom. Vines need proper pruning to ensure a long life so it’s important to pay close attention to the condition of the Clematis.


Roses are fairly easy to grow and easy to prune. Timing is determined by the type of rose plant and the climate, but it is most often done in the spring.


These can be a little complicated to prune and require pruning at different times throughout the year and depending on climate. Monitoring the hydrangeas closely will help the gardener determine when to prune.


Perennial Bedded Plants

These are pretty high maintenance and need to be pruned either before or after the growing season but also require regular attention. Some will be pruned in the spring and some in other months and this is only really learned over time.

Perennials to Prune in Spring

Some plants don’t do well when pruned before the winter months because they need the extra protection to help them survive through the cold. The only way to really determine this is to monitor a garden over time and see how the plants respond to pruning at different times of the year. Wall Cress, Rock Cress, Lavender and Blue-beard should all be pruned in the spring.

Perennials to Prune in Fall

Most plants, as a rule, don’t handle rough weather well. This means that pruning in the fall will give them a chance to be pared down so they aren’t damaged by the frost and don’t acquire pests and diseases through the harsh winter. Daylillies and Columbine are examples of perennials that benefit from fall pruning, but the general rule is to prune the plants whose leaves dry up and die when the weather starts to cool down.



There are two different types of Evergreens.

Broad-Leaf Evergreens

Most evergreens, including holly, mahonia, and different types of magnolias, require very little pruning. When they do need it, it’s best to do so early in spring.

Needle-Leaf Evergreens

Needle-leaf evergreens are trees and shrubs like spruce, juniper, cypress, fir, etc. They are best pruned early in the growing season but pruning a few branches in the winter won’t harm them.


Berry Bushes and Fruit Trees

These plants can be a little tricky. The best production comes every few years so every year, in the winter, gardeners should try to prune about 1/3 of the plant to make room for new growth. Try to aim for the older branches, which can welcome in disease and produce sour-tasting fruit. These require quite a bit of observation and maintenance.


How to Buy Pruning Tools on eBay

Purchasing pruning tools on eBay is a great way to acquire all of the tools a gardener needs, sometimes at a great discount. In order to get started, gardeners should head to eBay and do a search for ‘gardening tools.’ From there, a buyer can search through the available listings in order to find the necessary tools.

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