Timing for Pruning Flowering Shrubs

Timing for Pruning Flowering Shrubs

Flowering Shrub

Every year we get a number of calls about why their particular shrub did not bloom. 

So we are here to explain why this might happen, to help you plan ahead to allow your beautiful, abundant flowering shrubs to bloom endlessly. 

There are a variety of reasons why a particular plant might not bloom. One reason why your plant might not bloom well, is that it received too much shade and not enough sun. 

Another reason could be that your plant was given too much lawn fertilizer, which results in beautiful foliage, but a lack of flowers. 

But most likely the biggest reason behind your flowering shrubs not blooming is because they were pruned at the wrong time of the year, eliminating the flower buds. 

Timing is Key

We are going to select a few shrubs that you need to be aware of so you can keep your plants blooming abundantly in your landscape!

Below is a list of the most common plants that should NOT be pruned until they are done blooming!

Lilac

Sensation Lilac

The ideal time to prune your Lilac shrubs is as soon as these plants finish blooming. This is the best time because they produce new growth after flowering, so the flower buds bloom on their old wood. 

With that being said, if you prune later in the summer, fall, winter, or early spring before they leaf out – you will be removing the flowers that developed in the prior season. 

Viburnum

Similar to the Lilacs, these plants can only be pruned after they bloom because the new growth that develops after the bloom period is where the developing blooms for the upcoming year grow.

This is why you might have seen Viburnums have no flowers developing on the top of the shrub, which is where they were pruned, but only flowers on the side branches. 

Forsythia 

This plant is one of the first to bloom in the spring with elegant yellow flowers throughout it’s stems! 

Let your Forsythia bloom abundantly for weeks and as soon as the flowering is done you can begin to prune. You can even cut it all the way to the ground and allow all new branches to develop fresh flower buds for the next year.

Magnolia

You might see this shrub as low branched, clump formed, or sometimes as single stemmed, but however they are grown, you must be informed that this plant flowers on last year's wood!

So allow your Magnolia to bloom beautifully, and once it finishes blooming, you can get your shears out and reduce the size or remove dead or damaged branches if that’s what you prefer. 

Just keep in mind that the new growth that develops will grow next year’s flowers on them, so leave all the new growth alone for bountiful blooms!

Rhododendron and Azalea

Honey Butter Rhododendron

These spring blooming gems have all of the magic already built into the buds anxiously awaiting for spring right now, so if you went and pruned them now you would be eliminating it’s flowers. 

Let these breathtaking blooms work their magic and once they’re done blooming, you can prune if needed to reduce their size or shape. 

If you are growing our popular reblooming varieties then be sure to only trim right after the first set of spring flowers bloom. While there may be some bud production happening on the new growth after, pruning as soon as the first flush of blooms is the best course of action. 

Ninebark

Whether you have this plant in shrub form or single stem tree form, we are here to tell you when to prune this beauty!

You will be blessed with clusters of pink buds opening to white and showy fleshy seeds that all produce on last year’s wood, so wait for them to bloom and after the flowers finish blooming you can trim if needed. 

Weigela 

Many of the new Weigela varieties will bloom first on last year’s wood and then again later in the season on this year's new growth. In order to get the most flower power, the time to prune is right after the first major flush of flowers in later spring.  

Aronia

All of the red and black Chokeberry plants will flower and fruit on last year's wood, so timing is everything!

These plants are usually grown for the delicious fruit, so if you prune in late winter, early spring, or fall before they leaf out and bloom, then you will eliminate flowers and fruit. 

In most cases, your Aronia shrub would need renewal pruning by cutting the fattest stems out of the ground and leaving the thinner stems in their place to produce the most flowers. 

Philadelphus Snow White Sensation

Mock Orange

Philadelphus varieties are spring blooming shrubs, but you’ll want to wait to prune them until after they leaf out and show off their magnificent flowers. After they are finished blooming, you can cut your plant down to your personal preference. 

Climbing Roses

In the late May and early June, these plants will need their long, older canes to produce an abundant amount of blooms. 

Let your plants bloom and when the older canes need to be replaced with younger, thinner canes, you can selectively take out the older, thicker, and damaged canes after the first round of beautiful blooms.

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