Is It Too Late To Prune My Trees?

Question: Is it too late to prune my trees?

No, most trees and shrubs can be pruned at any time of year in the Pacific Northwest. However, it is easier to prune without leaves because you can see the branches better.

The only plants which have a limited pruning time are spring flowering shrubs. Shrubs like Rhododendron, Azalea, Lilac, Andromeda and Forsythia form their flowers buds in the late summer and early fall. If they are pruned any time after the flower buds are formed, some will be removed. As a result, the amount of spring bloom is reduced.

Is does not hurt these plants to prune in winter or early spring before they bloom. But there are fewer flowers to enjoy. Summer flowering shrubs such as Hydrangea and Rose form their flower buds on new growth which is developed in the spring, They can be pruned in the fall, winter and early spring before new growth occurs without reducing the bloom.

I avoid pruning a few marginally hardy evergreen shrubs in the fall because it can make them more susceptible to winter damage. Viburnum ‘Spring Bouquet’, Choisya ternate (Mexican Orange) and Escallonia are three shrubs which have been damaged the last 2 winters.

Pruning triggers all plants to grow to replace what has been removed. Soft new growth is the most susceptible to winter damage. I avoid pruning them after September first. I want these plants to harden their tissues going into winter.

There is information about pruning specific groups of plants on our web site: Click on pruning and then select the article you would like to read.

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