A common question we get when the snow melts and spring breaks is “When should I prune?”
Most shrubs don’t require regular pruning in order to be beautiful and healthy. Enjoy your low maintenance landscape, and just prune any diseased or dead branches in the spring after new growth has flushed out. If you do want to prune to improve the shape, encourage rebloom or rejuvenate an over-grown shrub, use a pair of sharp bypass pruners and cut straight across the branch (not at an angle). Aim to cut back about 1/3 from the tip, just above a big bud.
As for when is the best time to prune, the answer depends upon your plant and variety. Plants that bloom on old wood (generally those that bloom earlier in spring) should only be pruned after they finish blooming during the current year. Plants that bloom on new wood can be pruned in the spring, after the new growth is beginning to flush out. Linked below is a nice pruning tip sheet from Proven Winners that includes a list of common shrubs (Azalea, Forsythia, Ninebark, Spirea, Weigela, Hydrangea, Red-twig dogwood) that grow on old wood vs. new wood.
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