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When to Prune What

Spring is upon us, which means it’s an important time of year for our landscapes; especially because it’s pruning season! Pruning your plants at the proper time of year is essential to their overall health and longevity. Although pruning at the wrong time of year doesn’t harm the plant (as long as it’s done correctly), you will not have the blooms you’re looking forward to during the upcoming season.

For instance, flowering plants can either occur on new wood or old wood. Flowering on new wood refers to a plant that does not create flower buds until after growth begins in the spring. Since they’re developing during the present season, these types of plants will be responsible for developing the flower buds that will open later that year. It’s important to prune these types of plants in early spring before blooming to encourage growth. Many hydrangeas, roses, roses of Sharon, and butterfly bushes grow on new wood.

Old wood refers to a plant that forms the flower buds for next year’s blooms during the current year. After these plants bloom, they begin to form the flower buds for the following year. Typically, plants that grow on old wood tend to flower early in the growing season. Examples of old wood plants include azaleas, camellias, and oak leaf hydrangeas. The best time to prune old wood plants is right after they bloom.

Depending on whether the plants are old wood or new wood, the time of year you prune will be different. Below is a list of common shrubs in our area of Florida and quick tips on the best times to prune them:


  • Azaleas (right after they finish blooming), redbud, hedges such as Japanese Yew, Ligustrum, and Viburnum, woody shrubs such as boxwood, ilex shillings, silver thorn, juniper, and lorapetalum.


  • Ornamental grasses and lower branches of Japanese Magnolia.


  • Prune weak or damaged limbs from shade trees; such as an oak, for example.


  • Azaleas (last window to prune ends in June!), Indian Hawthorn, Camellia, and Gardenia.
  • Prune tea olive after it finishes blooming.
  • Lightly prune summer blooming shrubs.
  • Remove old blooms and flower spikes from annuals.
  • Remove seed heads and old flower spikes from crape myrtles.

As for palm trees, you can prune them any time of year! However, not all palm trees need trimming. If the palm tree holds fronds after they turn brown, be sure to trim the brown fronds. If the tree drops its brown fronds on its own, it doesn’t need trimming.

For more information on when, what, and how to prune we encourage you to come visit us at our Garden Center! We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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