When and How to Prune Landscape Plants: Early Fall/Winter
Early fall is perfect for removing damaged and dead wood from tress in the landscape.
Pruning is one of the least understood gardening tasks and for good reason – it’s confusing.
When, how, and if you should prune depends on the type of plant or tree you have and your goal for the plant. Do you want to keep it a certain shape and size? Do you need to remove dead or damaged limbs and branches? Do you want to stimulate flowering? Do you want to create a specific form, such as a topiary? Or do you just need to trim a limb so you can see oncoming traffic?
Pruning should take place after the plant’s landscape feature has passed. In most cases, you want to prune after a plant has flowered or its berries have faded.
Here are some pruning chores for fall and winter from Extension Publication 3437, “Calendar of Home Gardening Chores in Mississippi.”
- Repot houseplants and prune away any dead or damaged foliage.
- Check your landscape plants for any maintenance pruning that needs to be done. Remove any plant parts that will interfere with structures or block visibility from driveways or windows.
- Remove damaged and dead wood from trees.
- Pick the blossom-like fruit of golden rain trees and let them dry for winter arrangements.
- Remove dead limbs and lightly prune evergreen shrubs.
- Cut off tops of brown perennials; leave roots in the soil.
- Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs such as azaleas, hydrangeas, mock oranges, spireas, and flowering quince because flower buds are already forming.
- Delay pruning of most trees and shrubs until February, since any new growth stimulated by pruning may be killed by a sudden freeze.
- Prune trees to remove damaged or dead wood only.
- Cut off the tops of brown perennials; leave roots in the soil.
- Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs.
- Ferns will come back from the ground; cut back brown fronds.
You can find more information about monthly gardening tasks in Extension Publication 3437, “Calendar of Home Gardening Chores in Mississippi.”
For more information about how to prune, when to prune, pruning techniques, and the best tools for the job, refer to Extension Publication 3589, “Pruning Landscape Plants.”
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