Contrary to popular belief, late fall and early winter is not the time for pruning. Now is the time to prune ornamentals or shrubs.
Because flowering ornamentals form their buds at different times of year, pruning times are different.
Many spring-flowering plants such as azalea, dogwood, forsythia, redbud and rhododendron set flower buds in the fall. So pruning in the fall or winter eliminates or decreases their spring flower display.
Plants that typically flower in the summer form buds on new growth and can be pruned in the winter with no effect on their flowering. Examples are crepe myrtles, hibiscus and abelia.
As a general rule, plants that flower before May should be pruned after they bloom. Those that flower after May can be pruned prior to spring growth.
One exception to the rule is the oakleaf hydrangea, a summer-flowering shrub that forms flower buds the previous season. Another exception are late-flowering azalea cultivars, which bloom in May, June or even July. Prune both the oakleaf hydrangea and the late-blooming azalea cultivars after they bloom.
Ornamental plants not grown for their flowers can be pruned in late winter, spring or summer.
Avoid pruning in the fall or early winter, because it may encourage tender new growth that is not sufficiently hardened to resist the winter cold.
For us in Hall County, mid- to late February is the best time to prune summer flowering trees and shrubs. Also, if you need to cut off that lowest limb on the big oak tree you keep dodging while cutting grass, late February is fine for that, too.
When it comes to equipment, hand pruners are going to be your tool of choice. Buy the best quality you can afford. It really pays off year after year when you don’t have to replace them each season.
Purchase the scissors cut type of pruners instead of the anvil-type. The anvil-type tends to crush the branch as opposed to the scissors, which makes a clean cut.
Lopping shears work great for plants about 1.5 inches in diameter. If it is 2 inches or better, a good pruning saw is needed to get the job done.
If you have any questions about pruning a specific tree or shrub or pruning technique, give the office a call and I will be glad to talk to you.