Sandys Garden Tips

Fall Pruning

Ensure that shrubs are completely dormant before trimming them

By: Sandy Feather 2014
Penn State Extension

Q. A number of shrubs in my garden have gotten a bit overgrown, and I would like to prune them before cold weather arrives. Can I prune them now?

A. It really is best to wait until they are completely dormant. Pruning at this time of year can force new growth that will not have time to harden off before winter. Also, you can see the structure of deciduous shrubs more clearly once they lose their leaves for winter.

Burning Bush with its red fall color

Plants harden off for winter in response to shorter days, and practices such as late pruning and/or fertilization can interfere with that process. That can result in winter injury or more severe winter injury than would otherwise occur.


It is fine to remove a dead stem or branch, or a stem or two that has grown wildly out of shape with the rest of the plant. Just hold off on any overall or severe pruning until the plant is completely dormant.


Pruning Azaleas

Pruning Hydrangeas

Pruning Rhododendrons


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