Prime Time for Pruning

Prune your trees and shrubs to keep them healthy and attractive.

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Winter is a prime time to put your pruning and trimming skills on display.Winter is a prime time to pay attention to your trees and shrubs. The leaves are long gone and most woody plants are dormant, making it an ideal time to give them a trim. Right here you'll find out why, what and how to prune.

Renew overgrown shrubs and trees in 3 easy steps.
Well-pruned plants produce more flowers and fruit. And sensible pruning helps trees and shrubs ward off pests and diseases, so you'll have to care for them less. Here's how to prune almost any flowering shrub or fruit tree.

What to Prune in Winter
Pruning in winter—during the dormant season—invigorates many trees and shrubs because it leaves the plants with extra root and energy reserves that will support new growth on the remaining branches. Dormant-season pruning is good for you, too, because you can see the branches more clearly without leaves in the way. And it gives you a reason to go outside on mild winter days. Here is a partial list of shrubs and trees you can prune from winter until the long days of spring start sap flowing again. You'll also find here a short list of trees not to prune during winter.

Shrubs

  • Barberries
  • Glossy abelia
  • Beauty berries
  • Camellias (after they finish blooming)
  • European hornbeam
  • Euonymous
  • Mallow
  • Hydrangeas


Trees

  • Bradford and Callory pears
  • Crabapples
  • Poplar
  • Spruce
  • Junipers
  • Sumacs
  • Bald cypress
  • Cherries
  • Plums
  • Honey locust


Don't Prune During Winter
Some trees "bleed" or ooze sap when pruned in late winter or early spring. While oozing sap is not dangerous to the tree, it can make a sticky, dirty mess, especially on parked cars. Prune these trees in summer or fall:

  • Maples
  • Birches
  • Dogwoods
  • Walnuts
  • Elms
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