Spring pruning shrubs

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Besides improving the health of plants by removing dead, diseased, or injured branches, pruning improves the quality of flowers, fruit, leaves or stems. To enhance flowering, prune spring-blooming plants--those that bloom before June 1 and produce flower buds on last year's growth--as soon as the flowers fade. Flower buds will form on shoots during late summer and then next spring, these one-year-old shoots will be adorned with flowers.

A partial list of spring-flowering plants includes the following shrubs and trees:

Prune After Flowering
(produce flowers on previous season's growth)

Alternate-leaf Butterfly-bush (Buddleia alternifolia)
Azalea (Rhododendron spp.)
Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)
Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford')
Bridalwreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia)
Clematis (Clematis spp.)
Climbing Roses
Crabapple (Malus spp.)
Deutzia (Deutzia spp.)
Dogwood (Cornus spp.)
Doublefile Viburnum (V. plicatum var. tomentosum)
Japanese Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata)
Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles spp.)
Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
Indian Hawthorn (Raphiolepis umbellata)
Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica)

Japanese Flowering Apricot (Prunus mume)
Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica)
Lilac (Syringa spp.)
Mockorange (Philadelphus spp.)
Oakleaf Hydrangea (H. quercifolia)
Pearlbush (Exochorda racemosa)
Pyracantha (Pyracantha spp.)
Redbud (Cercis spp.)
Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)
Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
Thunberg Spirea (Spiraea thunbergii)
Vanhoutte Spirea (S. x vanhouttei)
Weigela (Weigela florida)
Old Graybeard (Chionanthus virginicus)
Winter Daphne (Daphne odora)
Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima)
Wisteria (Wisteria spp.)
Witchhazel (Hamamelis spp.)

This info was obtained from this site:


This message was edited Thursday, Apr 26th 8:49 AM

Philadelphia, PA(Zone 6b)

Thanks Louisa..good info :)

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

You're welcome :-)

Can any one help me with a question about pruning a 'burning bush? I bought a house with several HUGE foundation plantings that must be decades old. I am trying to save some of them, but I need to make them smaller. I have a burning bush that is now about 8 feet high and 5 feet in diameter. I would like to make it about 5-6 feet high and 3-4 feet in diameter. If I were to take my electric pruning tool and take a foot off all the way around, would that be okay? Also, can I do it now? It has been really hot here in Zone 6 for the last 2 weeks. So, the burning bush has already started to leaf out. I am a bit scared that if I take off as much stem as I want, I might accidentally kill it. On the other hand, it would be great if it them sprouted new leaves. Does anyone know what my chances are?



Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Hi, Greenhousing! Welcome to DG! Burning Bush (Euonymous Alata), also known as Winged Euonymous are best known for their fall color, which can be quite beautiful - pink in shade, deep crimson in full sun.

In my opinion (which is only that - a personal preference) I would NOT take shears to it. I would strongly recommend that you find some good sharp loppers, and "open up" the shrub from the inside, removing any crowded, tangled and/or crossed limbs. If it's just too big for the space, you can trim it back limb by limb to maintain its natural shape, which is much prettier (my opinion again) than shearing it into a box or ball shape.

One of my books (maybe the So. Gardening Landscaping) has a picture of this shrub after it has been pruned to be more open, and it is really very pretty.

Go VOls,

Thanks for the suggestion. I will do my best not to butcher. One more question if you don't mind. If I do prune it now, will it likely produce more leaves so that I can enjoy their beautiful color in fall? Or am I just too late? Do you have any thoughts on this timing aspect?


Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

I don't know how fast-growing these plants are. Our shrubs haven't put out a ton of new shoots this spring, but I haven't pruned them so I really couldn't tell you whether that would stimulate growth that quickly.

If yours are good sized shrubs, you'll get plenty of leaf color, unless you scalp it ;0) or get some weird weather this fall.....

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