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Gardening with Wanda

A common question asked of the Hall County Extension office, brought to you by Wanda Cannon

POSTED: August 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Question: Since fall is right around the corner, when is the best time to prune woody ornamentals and fruiting plants?

Answer: First, it is important to distinguish which buds form on old wood and which do not. This will help you to establish a good pruning time.

In general, most pruning is done in the winter during the cooler months, with the exception of our early spring flowering shrubs and trees. Some examples of flowering spring plants are azalea, forsythia, dogwood and redbud trees.

These plants bloom on buds formed during the previous year's growth. It is important not to do any major pruning on these particular plants until after they bloom in the spring.

A good general rule of thumb is plants that flower before June 1 should be pruned after they bloom and those that bloom after June 1 (summer flowering plants) can be pruned in winter or right before spring growth begins.

One exception is hydrangeas, which are a summer flowering shrub that does form buds on old wood from the previous season. It should be pruned after it blooms.

Avoid late summer or early fall pruning because the plants are still storing up essential nutrients for its root systems.

With our current drought conditions, added stress on the plant could affect its next season's growth and full color show.

Fruiting plants also follow the same rule as above. Proper training and pruning are essential for successful fruiting. Proper pruning should guarantee a successful fruit crop in size, quality and pest management.

Walter Reeves has a great list of plants and proper pruning times that can be picked up in the Hall County Extension office.

Thanks to Fresh from the Farm publications written by Gregory Harvey, Clemson University Extension Service.

Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293, e-mail:


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