When Should I Prune My Hedge Plants?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:26 pm

All hedge plants should be cut back regularly. There are hedge plants that do not require any further maintenance to maintain a pretty, natural shape. But even with these hedge plants, you should regularly cut back the branches that are out of line. This all sounds pretty simple, but still, we often hear the following question: when should I trim my hedge plants? This question is definitely valid, because it depends on the variety how often and when the plants should be cut back. We will now explain in more detail from hedge plant to hedge plant what is the best plant pruning period in each case.

When Should I Prune My Hedge Plants?
Evergreen plants, however, are more robust than less hardy varieties, but frost is not really good for any plant.

The ideal plant pruning period for hedge plants.

Because there are many hedge plants, it is generally difficult to say anything about pruning. However, most hedge plants should be pruned between May and September. If you are pruning plants more often during this period, the first pruning should be done before the longest day of the year. Pruning should be done at regular intervals. Cloudy days are best, after it has just rained. Due to the rain, the branches are easy to cut, and due to the cloudiness, strong rays of the sun can not cause burns to the plants. Especially evergreen hedge plants and deciduous hedge plants with thin branches and small leaves are sensitive.

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When Should I Prune My Hedge Plants?

Pruning should not be done during frost. Some plants may be fine to cut back in the winter, but frost makes it much harder for plants to absorb nutrients and can cause frost damage to plants. Not every plant can then recover from frost damage either. Evergreen plants, however, are hardier than less hardy varieties, but frost doesn’t really do any plant any good. Besides, this also has a practical advantage: branches are particularly hard during a frosty period, making pruning much harder. Especially dogwood branches can be quite difficult to cut at sub-zero temperatures.

When Should I Prune My Hedge Plants?

Cut hedge plants in the spring

Plants that bloom only from the beginning of July, should be cut in the spring. This includes popular hedge plant varieties, such as the cherry laurel, beech hedge, boxwood, hydrangea or even the wonderful, colorful butterfly bush. However, then make sure in any case that there is no more night frost. After all, after a severe, particularly cold winter, at the beginning of spring may well happen more often night frost.

If you cut flowering hedge plants in the spring, then prepare them well for the flowering season, because pruning allows plants to form new shoots, which will later get flowers. However, pruning should then take place at the beginning of spring. Another reason for spring pruning has to do with the end of the dormant season. When the plants become more lively again, they also grow the fastest. Hedges then quickly look unsightly if pruning is not done. With playful varieties, such as cherry laurel, this is not a problem, but if you prefer formal hedges, then regular pruning should definitely take place.

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When Should I Prune My Hedge Plants?
If you wait to prune, then the next year the plants will bloom less or not at all.

Pruning hedge plants in the summer

Summer is not the best time of year for radical pruning in most cases. However, light pruning can be done well in the summer. Conifers should be pruned several times a year, especially the fast-growing varieties, such as the mock cypress or Leyland cypress. Yew has a somewhat slower growth rate, but even yew should not be pruned until the end of spring or beginning of summer. In general, plants that bloom in the spring should be pruned in the summer. If you wait to prune, the plants will bloom less or not at all the next year.

So cut spring bloomers soon after they have bloomed. Cut early bloomers as early as May or June, such as blackthorn, yellow dogwood or forsythia.

When Should I Prune My Hedge Plants?
Prune your plants before the first frost to protect them.

Cut hedge plants in autumn

Autumn is not usually associated with growth. You may now be thinking that plants should not be pruned in the fall, but there are still hedge plants that should be pruned in the fall. Sun-sensitive plants in particular benefit from fall pruning. However, plant sap production also plays a role here. In the case of field maple, plant sap production is particularly low in the fall, so this plant is almost unable to dry out in the fall. This is also the case with hornbeam, but you can cut it back at the end of summer. Prune your plants before the first frost to protect them.

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In the winter, most hedge plants want to be left alone. If there are no frosts, then you can certainly cut off one or two unsightly branches. However, if plants are already producing plant sap, then this is not possible. Beech hedges can eventually be cut in winter, but we still recommend to do it only at the end of winter or at the beginning of spring. When pruning a beech hedge, you are in fact also cutting off withered leaves from time to time, which can create unsightly holes in the hedge. You will then have a privacy hedge again only in the spring, when new buds and leaves appear.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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