Fall – To Prune or not to Prune?

Winter is coming- not just for Game of Thrones, but for your garden too. And like many people at the first sign of cold, you’re off and ready to prepare for the worst of it- raking, mulching, composting, and of course, pruning, right? Well, hold on just a second.

While cutting back your perennials after the first frost and cleaning up your vegetable garden are certainly recommended right now, try to fight the urge to fire up hedge trimmers and oil up your pruners in anticipation of a good fall trim. Most summer flowering plants, like roses, panicled hydrangeas, rose of Sharon, and others, much prefer to be left alone for the coming winter and cleaned up in the early spring. Even your ornamental grasses would much rather be left alone for the winter and pruned in the spring. By leaving these plants alone, you allow any winter damage to occur at the tops of the plants, where you would be pruning it out anyway, instead of much deeper in the plant, where it will take longer to recover.

But when exactly should you prune? Spring flowering shrubs like azaleas, lilac, and rhododendron should be pruned after flower and before the fourth of July, whereas summer flowering shrubs, roses, and grasses should be left alone until late winter or early, early spring. Any evergreens can be pruned in mid-spring after the plants have begun to flush lush new growth.

Winter is coming- make yourself a drink and stay warm. Your plants will thank you in the spring.

Will O’Hara

Perennial Manager