How To Prune Flowering Shrubs

Pruning at the wrong time may lead to less vigor and growth, plants still need to be pruned. There is, generally speaking, no right time to prune, since different plants have different needs. When you are considering when to prune and what kind of pruning to do to your plants, you have to think about what kind of plant you are working with.

Some plants, such as flowering and fruiting plants need to be pruned when they are in a state of dormancy. Others, such as trees and shrubs that bloom need to be pruned after they start bearing flowers and fruit. Others still have to be consistently pruned, so that they continue to bloom.

How to prune

There are four pruning methods and each of them produces different results.

1. Pinching

Pinching off a bud with your thumb and forefinger. This pruning method encourages bushy growth and helps give plants such as shrubs a more uniform shape.

2. Heading

When you are heading a plant you use pruners to cut directly above a leaf. Rather than a bushy growth, heading will result in a more dense body to your bush by stimulating growth at buds below the cut line.

3. Shearing

This is when you cut off a lot of a plant or bush without regard to the plants structure. This method is used for shaping hedges and bushes and is best for plants with small leaves.

4. Thinning

Thinning is just reducing the overall bulk of a plant. When you thin a plant, you use pruners, loppers or a pruning saw to remove whole stems and branches. If you need to cut a plant above a growth bud, you will need to use a 45 degree angle cut.

Flowers for everyone

Pruning perennial flowers

Perennials can be cut back before and after their growing season in your area. They also need to be sheared and deadheaded. Prune summer-flowering plants in later winter or early spring when they are dormant. Prune spring-flowering plants right after their blossoms fade.


They should be pruned right after flowering if you just want to reduce the size of the plant. Otherwise, they should be pruned in spring.


Roses should be pruned at least two times a year. The first pruning consists of deadheading – looking for dead flowers and cutting them off below the flower. The second time roses need to be pruned is in the winter when they are dormant.

Flowering trees and shrubs

Flowering trees and shrubs should be pruned when they are dormant. This is typically in the late winter and early spring. Spring flowering trees and shrubs should be pruned when their flowers begin disappearing. When you aren’t sure, you should prune flowering shrubs right after they flower.

Knowing what to prune

When you are pruning shrubs, you will be looking for long stems that are unbranched. Cut the branch above a healthy bud to ensure that side branches will form. Thin out and remove weak and out of place branches throughout the development of the shrub.