When is the best time to trim a tree?

When to prune trees?

The question of when to prune trees remains perhaps the most perplexing one out of all the horticultural dilemmas. Unlike the prevailing myth, the best time to prune trees is not the fall, to be precise and pruning trees at the wrong time can prove to be quite dangerous for their health. Some experts advise to keep on pruning and trimming your trees throughout the year, gradually. However, it would be best if you kept in mind that this pruning and trimming routine can differ for different plants. Hence, some knowledge of Horticulture can prove to be quite handy in this regard.

The Purpose of Pruning

Ordinarily, we mostly prune trees to eliminate dead or weak branches, infestations, or fungal attacks (in worst cases). If you prune in late winters, then the closure of wound and growth is somewhat delayed, and these wounds can be quite detrimental for your plant’s health. They can be the source of potential fungal attacks and diseases in the longer run. Hence, we advise aiming for the branches’ collar while pruning to be on the safe side.

General Instructions for Pruning and When to trim different types of trees

It is also advisable to get rid of any dead weight that has been sitting on top of the tree, like dead branches and huge piles of dead leaves, in some cases, as they are not only a burden to the plant but they are also blocking a considerable amount of sunlight from reaching the leaves below. It can also prove to be dangerous to the property. In a storm, the dead branches are prone to falling on the roof if the tree is close to a house. Other than this, getting rid of all those branches makes the tree overall more appealing and healthier.

Deciduous Trees

These trees shed their leaves yearly. It would be best if you pruned them in the late fall, as they would have entered their dormant phase by then. Hence, the network of all their branches is visible for you to inspect the tree thoroughly.

Do not prune Oak between March and October to mitigate the chance of an oak wilting infection. Oak fungal disease is dangerous and prevalent across several regions. It is spread by sap-feeding beetles (“picnic bugs”) from infected trees to healthy trees. If a spring or summer oak tree must be cut (as during a storm), we recommend adding a layer of latex house paint to the sliced regions to discourage sap-feeding bugs from attacking the wounds.

Deciduous Shrubs

The best time to trim tree branches in this regard depends on the growing habits, flower times, and the condition or status of the plant.

The development of the previous season is marked by the flowering shrubs of spring, including lilac and forsythia. The survival or state of the plant decides the appropriate time to harvest flowers in the spring.

Immediately after the flowering season is potentially the perfect time to prune good and well-tended spring-flowering shrubs.

Gardeners will experience a spring flower display if they prune directly after the floral process and should give ample time for shrubs to start new floral buds for the next season.

Summer Floral Shrubs

Summer floral shrubs, including Potentilla and Japanese Spirea, thrive during the summer. It is best to prune these shrubs in late winter and early spring with the flowers of autumn. These pruned and groomed shrubs grow with the development of the current season in the autumn.

Care should be taken not to prune deciduous shrubs by the end of summer. Such shrubs may inspire a late flush of growth in August or early September.

Neglected and overgrown spring flora shrubs frequently require complete plant replenishment or plant restoration. Late winter or early spring (March or early April) is the perfect time to rejuvenate big overgrown bustling trees. Heavy pruning will decrease or remove floral displays for 2 or 3 months in late winter or early spring. But rejuvenation will improve the shrubs’ fitness.

Young Plants and Trees

Younger trees, if pruned correctly and in time, throughout the year, will grow out to be way healthier and hence will require lesser pruning when matured.

Evergreen Shrubs

Prune the shrubs such as juniper and yew until new development starts in late March or early April. You can do some light pruning in the middle of summer. You should not prune Evergreen in the autumn. Evergreen plumage is more vulnerable to winter disruption.

Subtropical Trees

In subtropical regions, like in California and Florida, pruning and trimming continue throughout the year. Trees lose leaves continuously since they have an adequate supply of sunshine, hence a faster photosynthesis rate. However, the rule of thumb in this regard is never to take more than 30% of a live branch, no matter what season it is.

Flowering Plants

You can prune plants that bloom flowers after the flowering season, which again varies from species to species. However, the routine pruning needs to be carried on round the year.


When to Really Prune?

As far as the question of when to prune trees is concerned, it varies from species to species. Different trees have different trimming requirements.

Is it Suitable to Prune the Plants Too Often?

No, you should give the plants adequate time to grow. We advise not cutting the branches until they have grown significantly more extensive. You need to allow them enough time to develop. As experts say, you cannot make the tree look good in just one pruning session or one season: it takes persistence and careful thought!

Can one do Pruning Themselves without any Expert Aid?

Sure, pruning is not a big deal when it comes to doing it all by yourself. However, care should be taken not to hurt yourself and to have all the right equipment for the job. If you are not sure, than it is better to hire a tree pruning service.


We hope that this article has answered most of your questions related to pruning. Please let us know in the comments about when you find it best to prune different species and whether you have any additional questions. Happy Gardening!

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