Plants

Don’t Prune These Plants in the Spring

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No matter how much cleanup and prep you do in your garden before winter arrives, there’s always a list of new maintenance tasks each spring. And along with cleaning out garden and flower beds and preparing the soil, many people are tempted to give their plants a spring haircut to get them ready for the season.

But some plants don’t respond well to being pruned this time of year. Here are a few that prefer their trims a bit later in the season.

Why some plants shouldn’t be pruned in the early spring

Ultimately, it comes down to timing. If you have a plant or shrub that is showing signs of life for the first time in several months, it may not be wise to prune them in early spring, as it may damage the plant, making it take longer to grow.

Plus, you may inadvertently trim off the buds before they have a chance to blossom. Instead, wait until later in the season—when the flowers are past their prime—to prune the shrub, according to Luan Akin of Tagawa Gardens in Colorado.

Plants and shrubs that shouldn’t be pruned in early spring

Here are some examples of plants to prune later in the season:

  • Azaleas: Wait until late spring or summer to prune. Do it after the blooms fade, but before new buds begin to form.
  • Forsythia: While it’s OK to prune branches that are clearly dead or severely damaged, leave healthy-looking branches alone in the spring, after the shrub is done flowering. Be sure to finish pruning before mid-July so the plant has enough time to develop flower buds for the following year.
  • Lilacs: Prune in the late spring or early summer, immediately after they’re done blooming. Don’t wait too long: Next year’s buds form right after this year’s flowers have faded.
  • Rhododendron: The hardened wood branches can be trimmed year-round, but pruning shouldn’t happen until after the shrub has fully bloomed.
  • Honeysuckle: While the vines can be pruned any time of year, prune the bushes in the late spring, as soon as the flowers drop off.

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