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When To Prune Flowering Trees and Shrubs

As spring arrives in all its beauty and the trees and shrubs bloom, our arborists frequently receive questions about when to prune flowering trees and shrubs. There are a few important things to know about pruning flowering trees and shrubs.

Pruning at the wrong time of year can significantly reduce or entirely remove the next bloom of flowers. Oftentimes the buds for next year’s flowers are set well before bloom, sometimes nearly a year prior. If these buds are removed they will not bloom the following season. This is why pruning at the proper time of year is so important.

So when should you prune? While the answer to this question can vary based on the plant type, there are few general rules that can be used.

Dead, damaged, and diseased limbs can be removed any time of year

There is never a wrong time to remove these problem limbs, so even if the tree is in full bloom, these limbs can come off.

As a general rule, prune right after bloom for spring bloomers

Most spring blooming trees and shrubs set their buds in the late summer and fall. Pruning in spring after bloom ensures that next year’s flower buds are not removed. Prune in late winter and early spring for late bloomers. For many summer blooming trees, such as crepe myrtle, these trees set their flower buds on the current years growth, so pruning can be done in later winter or early spring without fear of removing and flowers.

Sometimes removal of next year’s flower buds is necessary

If a tree needs to be pruned to improve its safety, the loss of next year’s flowers is a necessary cost. In addition, sometimes a tree needs a more drastic pruning. From a health perspective, this is often best done in the dormant season, which can mean removing some or all of next year’s flowers. Again, this is often seen as a necessary cost to improve the health of the tree.

While the general rules outlined above can help steer you in the right direction, trees and shrubs can vary in their ideal pruning times. Our ISA certified arborists would be happy to walk your property during one of our free property evaluations and answer questions you may have related to your flowering trees and shrubs.

When in doubt, ask one of Willow Tree Service’s ISA Certified Arborists. Contact Willow Tree and Landscape Services to discuss our pruning and plant health treatment services.

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I'll admit it, I was very scared about having our maple tree, that was easily over 100 years old removed. I love trees and we waited seven years until it was obvious it had to come down. Willow was up for the task with the largest crane I've ever seen in my life. Yes, a "serious" pruning of our Magnolia tree was required, but that was the only way they were able to have the crane go up and over our garage.

Shawn saw my sadness about the Magnolia and explained to me that within five years I probably won't even notice it.

Less than a week later they came back today and ground the stump for us. Once again I hid because this massive machine was only several feet away from our glass patio doors. The crew was meticulous in placing up wood boards to safely protect our home. And both times they cleaned up the area to perfection.

Thank you to both amazing crews, to the owner who came out himself to assess the job and provide the estimate, and to his lovely daughter in the office who is always so nice on the phone!

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Harriet S.