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Timing is everything with flowering shrubs

The most common question about shrub trimming is: "When?"

With flowering shrubs, the easiest "rule of thumb" to remember is to always trim flowering shrubs within one month after they finish blooming. That way you don't risk removing next year's blossoms.

Trimming at the "Right Time"

Trimming at the wrong time would have
removed these fragrant flowers!

Most shrubs are trimmed following their annual flush of growth.  But some shrubs can suffer from late-summer trimming, which can cause a late flush of growth that doesn't properly harden-off before the arrival of winter weather.


spent spirea blossoms
Trimming the spent flower heads off 'Anthony Waterer' Spirea (above) in
the early Spring makes it more attractive and doesn't affect the summer flowering

Cutting shrubs back

The most severe cutting-back of shrubs is best done in early spring, just prior to the emergence of new growth. We've had success rejuvenating large Yews, Junipers, Rhododendrons, and many other varieties during this early-season timeframe.

VIDEO: Rejuvenating a Lilac


Shrub Shearing Tips:

  • Keep your shears very sharp and properly adjusted for clean cuts.

  • Occasionally scrape away any resin buildup between the blades.

  • WD-40 helps clean and lubricate.

  • Junipers will shear much better in the cool of the morning.

  • Pay attention and keep your fingers and legs away from the blades.

New growth is called a candle
pine candles
"Candle" well describes the new growth on Mughos and other Pines (photos above and below). 1/2 to 2/3 of each new candle should be trimmed off after the candle fully elongates, but before the needles elongate - this is usually during June in SW Pennsylvania.  Using these methods will keep your pines compact and well shaped.
Trimming Pines


Pruning tools

Trimming trees

Pruning primer

Benefits of pruning



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