When to Trim Trees and Shrubs (Part 1 of 2)

If you are trying to figure out the best time to prune/trim, start first with the worst times to prune (because more experts agree on these) and work backwards from there.

So, what are the worst case scenarios in pruning at the ‘wrong time’?

  • Loss of flowers/fruit
  • Health decline/injury
  • Death

One important point is that pruning at the “wrong” time of year probably won’t kill your tree or shrub, but it may weaken it in the long run. Indeed many plants are trimmed at less than ideal times and yet they survive.

The Worst Times for Pruning:

  • In the rain. Many bacterial and fungal diseases are spread during cold or hot wet weather and fresh cuts make easy access.
  • During a severe drought, or flood like conditions. Energy is precious at these times and taking off branches is adding additional stress.
  • When current or upcoming temperatures are extreme. Fresh cuts are open, exposed living cell tissue that can dry out or freeze and the wood surrounding the cut can dieback.
  • When your tree or shrub is unhealthy. Wait for it to recover by giving it time and treatment (if necessary) before pruning.
  • After storm damage, root injury (like construction) or heavy pruning. Plants need time to recover from loss of branches and roots before any trimming is done.
  • Right before bloom. Does this really need explaining? Well, OK, maybe flowers and fruit aren’t your first priority.

To be continued in When To Trim, Part 2.