When To Prune Which Plants? Plant Pruning Tips

Regularly performed pruning of plants provides a lasting healthy growth, magnificent flowering and can increase the harvest in fruit-bearing plants. However, the right timing of pruning is extremely important, otherwise the plant may come to harm or, due to a weakened immune system, freeze to death the next winter. Some plants only need to be freed from withered and dead sections, others require radical pruning. A crucial clue to the timing and extent of pruning is provided by the blooming period of the plant in question.

Plant pruning tips

Many gardeners are reluctant to prune plants because they do not know exactly when and where to apply the pruning. Yet pruning is enormously important for most plants to grow healthily for a long time, to form a splendid flower and not to wither prematurely. In addition, the yield of fruit-bearing plants can be increased with targeted pruning. Although there are no generally applicable instructions for pruning plants, certain basic rules can be laid down. If you want to be on the safe side, you should inform yourself in advance about the requirements of the respective plant:

  • Cut out withered and dead plant parts regularly.
  • Thin out excessively branched shoots to prevent harmful fungal infestation.
  • Cut shrubs regularly into shape, otherwise they will develop too long and thin shoots.
  • In general, early bloomers should be pruned immediately after flowering
  • Do not prune late bloomers until the following spring
  • If in doubt, do not prune the plant, just thin it out.
  • Prune strong growing hedges even twice a year

Double pruning

Rosen schneiden

Promotes denser visual protection, e.g. for flowering shrubs and privet hedges
The more severe the pruning, the more new shoots will be formed.
Prune strong shoots only lightly, but weaker shoots should be pruned severely.
Pruning should only be carried out in warm and dry weather conditions.
Tip: If bleeding cuts occur during pruning, they should be closed with a wound closure agent. Always make sure to use high-quality tools; only sharp and disinfected pruning shears allow for a clean cut.

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Spring flowering plants bloom from a previous year’s shoot, the stronger it is, the more abundant the bloom will be. Many flowering ornamental plants need to be pruned in the spring because they cannot close pruning wounds at the end of the growing season. If pruning is done too late in the fall, frost can enter the plant unhindered and even cause it to die. In the spring, during the growing season, plants recover more quickly from pruning. In this way, harmful pathogens can not penetrate into the cut wounds and infect the plant. However, a disadvantage is the bare spots, these are often visible throughout the summer months. The following aspects should be considered when pruning plants in the spring:

  • Prune roses generally only in spring, never in late fall.
  • Early spring is the ideal time for pruning summer-blooming fruit trees
  • Always prune fruit trees before sprouting begins, otherwise bleeding will occur.
  • Prune raspberries for the first time in spring
  • Prune shrubs that do not flower until late summer and winter.
  • Prune out evergreen grasses, such as wood marble, in the spring
  • Prune ornamental grasses, whose fruiting stems beautify the bare garden in winter
  • Fruiting stems of ornamental grasses also serve as bird food and winter protection
  • Frost damage to small-flowered plants cut back completely
  • Tip: Radical pruning in the spring produces few new shoots, but very strong ones. The less severe the pruning, the more numerous the new shoots will be.


In summer, pruning should be divided in time and, depending on the plants, should be carried out either at the beginning of summer, in midsummer or in late summer. Spring flowering plants should also be pruned out at this time, especially during rainy periods, to prevent fungal attack from decaying flowers. Summer bloomers bear their flowers on this year’s shoots. Summer pruning is more for maintaining form, and radical pruning should not be done during this season. The following procedures have proven effective when pruning plants in the summer:

  • Prune flowering shrubs at the beginning of summer.
  • For red gooseberries and currants, prune in mid-summer.
  • Cut fan trellises and rambling trellises to shape in late summer
  • Prune plums and raspberries after the summer harvest
  • Trim hedges that serve as privacy screens
  • Do not prune sensitive hedges after August, as young new shoots can freeze easily
  • Cut back spring perennials when the leaves turn yellow, e.g. watering heart
  • Spring perennials retract early for oversummering
  • For summer perennials, remove the faded inflorescences in good time.
  • Summer perennials will bloom again in the fall, especially delphiniums
  • Prune deciduous shrubs, such as forsythia and lilac, after flowering in early summer.
  • Prune cherry trees, peach and apricot in late summer
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Cut branches intended for thinning to facilitate harvesting, including fruit
After harvesting, apply rejuvenation pruning and thin out the crown
Tip: In flowering shrubs, the timing of flowering can be controlled by pruning, and in some cases the plant can even be induced to re-bloom.


In the fall, pruning should be done less radically so that the plant does not suffer unnecessarily in the upcoming winter.
suffer unnecessarily in the coming winter. The leaves, flowers and stalks left standing serve as additional protection against frosty temperatures and prevent the freezing of shoots standing outside. Fall bloomers, just like summer bloomers, bear their flowers on this year’s shoots. Pruning in the fall is recommended, especially in harsh and windy elevations when a lot of snow is expected in the winter:

  • In autumn, most plants are already in the dormant phase
  • Bleeding during pruning is less
  • Prune only late fruiting plum trees
  • Prune out late blooming bedding roses
  • Shape blackberries after harvest
  • Blackberries have stingy shoots growing out of the leaf axils, cut these back
  • Cut back deciduous grasses in autumn

Tip: Pruning in the fall should not be done on pampas grass and other frost-sensitive grasses, these are better tied up in late fall.


In winter, most plants should not be pruned, as pruning can cause frostbite and, in extreme cases, even plant death. Only a few hardy varieties can handle pruning in the cold season without damage. Fruit trees have traditionally been pruned in winter because the workload of farmers during the other seasons was too great and they only had time for it during the winter season:
Prune only extremely hardy trees and shrubs.
It is better not to prune during the winter
Traditionally, fruit trees are pruned in winter

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Pruning is crucial for a magnificent development of the plant, if this part of gardening is neglected, the growth and formation of flowers will suffer. Many shrubs become woody and barren over time if they are not pruned regularly. Generally, early spring and late fall are the best times of year to perform plant pruning. However, less extreme pruning should be done in the fall, but more radical pruning may be done in the spring. For determining the right time for plant pruning, the flowering season is a telling indicator. Early-flowering plants are pruned immediately after flowering, late-flowering varieties only in the following spring. Deciduous shrubs and bushes that grow too dense and tangled over the years should generally be thinned out. Targeted pruning of plants promotes air circulation between the branches and leaves, in this way fungal infestation is prevented in the long term.


  • 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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