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Pruning Calendar

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Visit Brunswick County Pruning Calendar to download this content as a PDF.

Prune Damaged, Diseased or Dead branches at any time of the year




Shade Trees: oak, hickory, beech, black gum, poplar, sycamore, ginkgo, etc. *(Bleeder trees include: birch, dogwood, elm, maple, & styrax) Prune undesired and storm damaged limbs. For “bleeder” trees, heavy pruning should be done during the coldest weather. For light pruning of bleeder trees (See July).Make cuts using the Branch Collar Method of pruning. For more information see General Pruning Techniques


Roses Heavy prune in mid-February around Valentine’s Day when dormancy has broken. Remove all dead, diseased and damaged canes. Remove all plant material smaller than the diameter of a pencil. Desired Results: 4-5 strong canes 18-30” in height with a vase-like open center.
Blueberries On mature bushes prune by cutting out 3 to 4 of the largest, oldest canes. Crossing, diseased and low hanging branches should also be removed. Prune after the plants have shed their leaves but before flower buds begin to open. Expect to remove approximately one third of flower buds during pruning which will promote continued health in following years.
Grapes Prune annually to improve fruit production and to make the vine training easier.
Summer Flowering Shrubs: crape myrtle, rose of sharon (althea), Butterfly Bush, Eleagnus, August flowering Hydrangeas (normally with white flowers) Prune if shrub-like form is desired or if plants need shaping.
Ornamental Grasses: liriope, pampas grass, mondo grass, etc. Trim annually. Important to trim off previous year’s growth before the spring growth begins.
Overgrown Broadleaf Shrubs: ligustrum (privet), boxwood, osmanthus, photinia (red tip), holly, cleyera, viburnum, etc. Prune in late February to desired size. Rejuvenate by pruning out 1/3 of shrub each year. As a general rule try not to cut more than 1/3 of bush in any one year.
Camellia: japonica and sasanqua Prune any time after flowering but not later than mid-July.
Conifers & Narrowleaf Evergreens:hemlock, juniper, arborvitae, leyland cypress, etc. Often late summer growth from the previous season can misshape these plants. Trim away the excess growth to improve the shrub’s appearance. Do not trim away all of the green foliage – unlike broadleaf plants, buds will not develop from brown colored wood.


Rose Prune annually for best flower production. Trim early in the month before new spring growth begins.
Nandina Prune as needed. Cut the leggy and oldest canes near the ground. New shoots will develop at the location of your pruning cuts.
Abelia Shape plants to desired form early in March.
Spring Flowering Shrubs: spirea, forsythia (yellow bells), flowering quince, loropetalum, breath-of-spring (winter honeysuckle), weigela, lilac, etc. Prune IMMEDIATELY after flowering, but not after July 10th. In general, cut oldest limbs near the ground level for constant rejuvenation of shrubs.


Azalea Light pruning (12 inches or less) after flowering but not after July 10th (Early spring – February – and autumn pruning removes next year’s blossoms). However, overgrown azaleas should be pruned in February**.
Winter Damaged Plants Cut out any cold-damaged branches at the end of the month.
Berry Producing Shrubs: holly, pyracantha, etc. Prune while in flower to prevent removal of all berries. Shape to desired form.
Spring Flowering Trees: flowering cherry, Bradford pear, serviceberry, etc. Prune only as needed, immediately after blooming.


Hedges: privet, abelia, holly, euonymus, boxwood, etc.

Prune as desired, always make top of hedge narrower than bottom.



Conifers & Narrowleaf Evergreens:hemlock, juniper, arborvitae, white pine, leyland cypress, etc. Summer pruning of conifers is to shape the plants to their desired size. Start pruning in late June and continue through July. Trim only into green growth; brown wood on conifers will not regenerate new growth. White Pines should be trimmed in summer. With White Pines trim ONLY the growth that has grown since April (new growth).
Gardenia Prune immediately after bloom, not after mid-August.
Perennials: phlox, shasta daisy, purple coneflower, rudbeckia, etc. Remove old flowers to encourage re-bloom.
Hydrangea: Big Leaf or Florist Prune while flowering or immediately after. (These hydrangeas usually have either pink or blue flowers.)
Fruit Trees Remove water sprouts


Roses Prune by deadheading. Make cuts at a 45-degree angle, about 1/4 inch above an outward facing healthy bud. This will promote an open centered bush and encourage proper air circulation. Prune leggy plants only and fertilize after pruning for fall flowering.
“Bleeder” Trees:maple, birch, elm, styrax & dogwood Perform light pruning as desired. (Light pruning involves branches of 18 inches in length or less.) Dogwoods look best left in their natural form. Prune only when grown out of their natural shape.
Hedges As needed, keep bottom branches wider than top.
Brambles:blackberry & raspberry Prune out the wood that bore fruit, cutting canes near ground level.


Any Plants DO NOT PRUNE shrubs or trees in late summer or early autumn. Pruning stimulates new growth which may not have time to harden off before frost. You may remove any deadwood from shrubs or trees.


Roses Prune leggy canes to reduce damage from strong winter winds.
Weed Trees and Brush Remove any underbrush now when it is easiest to see.
Berry Producing Plants:holly, nandina, pyracantha, etc. Use berries indoors or in wreaths as Christmas decorations

Take a rest until January!!

* SPECIAL NOTE: Some trees should be allowed to let their lowest limbs grow until they sweep the ground. Those trees that are commonly found in our region are: Southern Magnolia, Deodora Cedar, American Holly, Hemlock and White Pine.

** NOTE: Some pruning in late winter & early spring may result in removing this season’s flower buds. However, the results of the pruning are much better when trimmed before bud break.