10 Plants You Should Not Prune in Spring - Backyard Boss
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10 Plants You Should Not Prune in Spring

When spring arrives, many enthusiastic gardeners grab their pruning shears to prune their shrubs and trees. Although pruning can promote healthy growth and assist with controlling plant size, it’s important to remember that not all plants respond well to spring pruning.

This is because spring is when most plants wake up from their deep winter slumber, ready to bloom, grow and add color to your garden! During this time, pruning them can impede their growth and even cause them to stop flowering.

So, how can you determine if your plant is suitable for spring pruning, and what factors should you consider to ensure your plants flourish?

What Is Pruning?

A woman gardener picks a large, beautiful red peony in the summer garden with a pair of pruning shears. Collecting cut flowers
Image credits: Andrej Maculskij via Shutterstock

Before you figure out whether the plants you’re growing prefer spring pruning, it’s essential to understand the essence of pruning. The main objective of pruning is to selectively remove branches from plants to enhance their long-term health by getting rid of any dead, broken, damaged, or diseased branches.

This promotes the growth of new branches while also maintaining the plant’s desired shape and size. There are four common types of pruning:

  • Reduce density – This is typically done to allow more sunlight to come through.
  • Maintain health – This method is used to remove dead, damaged, or diseased branches.
  • Maintain size – This is done to ensure that the plant has the desired shape, height, and width.
  • Improve structure – This usually includes one or more of the methods above, and it is used to improve both health and structure in the long run.

10 Plants You Should Not Prune in Spring

While there are many plants you shouldn’t prune in spring, here are some of the most popular ones to remember.

1. Forsythia

Forsythia with golden leaves blooming in spring.
Image credit: Chris Sorge via Openverse

This is a very popular shrub that you can easily recognize by its vibrant yellow flowers. Admired for its hardiness and low maintenance, this shrub blooms in early spring and can grow quite large. Therefore, don’t prune it during spring, even for size control, as it can decrease the number of blooms in the upcoming years.

To avoid this, prune forsythia immediately after spring flowering.

2. Lilac

Lilac shrubs
Image credits: NikolayTsyu via Shutterstock

With their enchanting fragrance and captivating beauty, Lilacs have become a popular choice for gardens. Nevertheless, don’t prune them during spring or until all the buds blossom. Pruning them in spring could reduce blooming for the current season and the subsequent ones.

However, be careful when cutting the branches to avoid over-pruning — snipping too much off can also impact bloom production in the future.

3. Quince

bright red flowers, flowering quince
Image credits: Nowaja via Pixabay

When it comes to pruning, this shrub follows a similar pattern to others listed here. Although it has the potential to produce stunning blooms of various hues under usual circumstances, pruning it prematurely can result in a reduced number of flowers the following year.

For this reason, prune the shrub during winter when it is dormant.

4. Mock Orange

mock orange
Image credits: Hans via Pixabay

Mock orange blooms in spring from buds that developed the previous year. To ensure you don’t accidentally prune off next year’s flower buds, it’s important to prune this shrub immediately after it flowers. If you wait too long and prune the plant sometime in late summer or fall, you may accidentally snip off the plant’s flower buds, resulting in a reduced number of blooms the following year.

5. Azaleas

Image credits: dae jeung kim via Pixabay

These shrubs are incredibly popular for their vibrant blooms. Nevertheless, pruning them prematurely could halt their gorgeous display, so it’s better to wait until the flowers have withered before pruning. Don’t be too aggressive with pruning because you can affect the growth and flowering ability of the shrub in the future.

6. Honeysuckle

cape honeysuckle
Image Credit: Lakeisha Ethans for Backyard Boss

This woody vine produces stunning trumpet-shaped flowers that emit a pleasant fragrance. Similar to other plants on this list, don’t prune it in spring until all the flowers have withered. Moreover, you should be cautious not to be too aggressive and remove too much wood because this will impact the plant’s ability to produce flowers. Nonetheless, if you wish to rejuvenate or alter the shape of your honeysuckle, late winter is an appropriate time to prune. This allows for abundant new growth for the coming season.

7. Magnolia

Southern Magnolia, prune
Image credits: happykamill via Shutterstock

Magnolias are widely known and loved for their gorgeous and vibrant colored flowers. It’s important to avoid pruning magnolias during late winter or early spring as this can result in sap bleeding from the plant. Prolonged sap loss can cause your cherished magnolia to lose vitality or potentially perish. It’s best to prune magnolias during mid-summer and early autumn.

8. Deutzia

Deutzia gracilis romantic bright white flowering plant, bunch of amazing and beautiful slender flowers on shrub branches, green leaves, prune
Image credits: Iva Vagnerova via Shutterstock

Recognized for its delicate white or pink flowers, don’t prune this deciduous shrub until all the blooms have vanished. Nonetheless, don’t put off this task for too long – if you do so, you risk leaving too little time for ripening, and it won’t flower well the following year.

9. Viburnums

Viburnums, prune
Image Credit: Lakeisha Ethans for Backyard Boss

Viburnums are widely known for their fruits, flowers, and fragrance, making them a popular choice for many gardeners. Typically, they require very little pruning; however, you should do it if they outgrow their growing spot. When pruning is necessary, it’s best to perform it after the plant has bloomed.

10. Ninebark

ninebark, prune
Image credits: manfredrichter via Pixabay

This vigorous deciduous shrub can grow up to 10 feet tall if left unattended. Therefore, it can be difficult to maintain a certain shape and size without regular pruning. If you want to prune them for size and shape, do it after flowering, no later than Labor day. Alternatively, if you’re pruning for the plant’s overall health, prune it during late winter when the ninebark is dormant.

Stay Pruned!

Pruning is essential in caring for most plants, especially if you want to maintain good plant health and maintain their size and height. However, you shouldn’t prune some plants in the spring, or if you must, you should do so only in certain circumstances – typically after the plant’s blooms have faded.

Pruning these plants in spring could cause them to lose their blooms, which may affect upcoming blooming seasons.

Leave your experiences, thoughts, and questions in the comment section! And share with friends and family who might find this helpful.