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Pruning Early Flowering Shrubs

Shrubs that bloom in Spring and early Summer are best pruned after they have finished flowering. This ensures that they have ample time to recover and set their flowers for next year. Shrubs that should be pruned now include:

Beautybush (Kolkwitzia)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
Lilac (Syringa)
Mockorange (Philadelphus)
Purple sand cherry (Prunus)
Quince (Chaenomeles)
Witch hazel (Hamamelis)

For shrubs with single flowers at the end of each stem (Lilac, Viburnum), cut back to just above a healthy leaf bud or stem crotch. For shrubs that flower all along the stem (Forsythia, Deutzia, Kerria), consider pruning 1/3 of the thickest stems down to the ground to control the shrub’s overall size. Otherwise, prune lightly for shape, cutting back 4-8” on each stem as desired. Prune out any damaged or diseased branches. Step back frequently and observe before cutting again. Prune to reshape your shrubs in a natural-looking way.

Don’t wait or you will miss the small window of time to prune. With a little effort now, you will encourage more flowers for next year and help maintain the vigor of your early blooming shrubs.

For more information:

Reprinted from MODE Landscape Design Vol 8: Time to Prune Early Flowering Shrubs, May 2012

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