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How to Prune Spring-Flowering Shrubs

Get tips for pruning spring-flowering shrubs to keep them attractive and healthy.

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-Gardeners often prune trees and shrubs in winter, and for many woody plants, this makes the most sense, but for spring flowering plants, the best time is right after they flower. That's because they form their flower beds on summer growth and winter pruning would eliminate much of the spring bloom. Forsythia is a good example. After it's done blooming, eliminate branches that are too large by clipping them off near the ground or find their branching point like this or make your cut there. Lilac is another example. This plant is getting too tall. So, I'll cut this entire branch off at the base. That will open up the plant so this young shoots can grow and take its place, but with a much smaller, tidier form. These guidelines apply to other spring bloomers as well such as magnolia, Weigela and mock orange, azaleas, and rhododendrons.