When to Prune Blooming Shrubs

You may have wondered when the best time is to prune those blooming shrubs.  It can be confusing, especially if you have a large variety of shrubs in your yard.

The best general rule that we have learned is loosely referred to as the “May 1” rule.  Call it the “May Day” rule if you will.  If a plant blooms before May 1st, you prune it soon after it flowers.  If a plant blooms after May 1st, you prune it before it flowers.  

This is because early spring bloomers, such as two that are popular here in the Pacific Northwest – rhododendron and azalea – flower on last year’s “woody growth”.  So you want to prune them back right after they flower, to ensure strong buds for next year’s flowering.

Late spring and summer bloomers, on the other hand, should be pruned well before they bloom, during their dormant season. Examples in this group would be crepe myrtle and gardenia, as well as most hydrangeas (with the exception of oak leaf).

A good guideline for a cut-off date for pruning back would be to stop all pruning by July 4th.

For a complete guide to pruning your trees and shrubs, check out this handy pruning guide from This Old House.

You Can Do This!

by See Jane Drill, Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved