Unless you’ve been gardening for many years, you really wouldn’t know WHEN exactly to prune a fruit or vegetable plant, and with all the guides around, things can get a little confusing. We’ve compiled a pruning guide which will tell you exactly when to prune and why! Of course every plant is different, so this is just a general guide that will apply to most plants, but as with everything, it’s not set in stone. So take a look at this when to prune guide and have your best harvest ever!
When to Prune Plants
#1. When You See Dead, Diseased, or Tangled Branches
This is a very general and obvious rule that when you see a dead or diseased branch, it must be cut off. This way, the rest of your plant will grow big and healthy. When you see branches crossing or rubbing each other, you should also prune one of them to ensure healthy growth.
#2. Late Spring
Flowers such as forsythia, lilacs, or rhododendrons should be pruned in late spring. Cut these plants back right after they’ve finished blooming to keep their shape. If you wait and prune too late, you may risk cutting off flower buds.
#3. Summer Bloomers
Shrubs and trees that bloom in the summer should be pruned in the winter while they are dormant. Alternatively, you can also prune in early spring before new growth appears.
#4. Showy Shrubs
Shrubs and trees with big or show-stopping foliage such as burning bush or barberry can be pruned almost any time except for in late fall. This is because new growth won’t have time to harden properly over the winter months.
#5. Garden Hedges
Cut back your hedges frequently during the early growing season. Pruning should be stopped about 6 weeks before the first frost.
Roses that bloom annually should be treated just like other spring-blooming shrubs. Prune these right after the flowers face, and prune other varieties that bloom repeatedly in early spring.
#7. Fruit Trees
Fruit trees are a little more tricky because their grow time is so long and there are many different varieties. Apple trees, for example should be pruned in later winter for a vigorous growth. A cherry tree, by comparison, should be pruned in summer. Never prune more than 25% in a year, and always make sure to cut off any dead, diseased, or tangled branches.
So now that you know when to prune your plants, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to planting!