How to Prune an Early-Flowering Shrub

Follow these steps to prune shrubs that flower before midsummer.

Spring Pruning

Spring Pruning

Shrubs that flower before midsummer, such as forsythia, kerria and deutzia, should be pruned after they have flowered. Their blooms develop on stems that were made the year before, therefore pruning soon after flowering gives the plants time to develop new stems that will bloom the following year.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Shrubs that flower before midsummer, such as forsythia, kerria and deutzia, should be pruned after they have flowered. Their blooms develop on stems that were made the year before, therefore pruning soon after flowering gives the plants time to develop new stems that will bloom the following year.

Step 1: Inspect Your Plant

Overgrown

Overgrown

When plants become too tall, stems shooting up from the base become congested. Flower buds may also suffer from frost damage.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

This deutzia is five years old, and has become too tall, while the stems shooting up from the base are congested. Some flower buds are also suffering from frost damage.

Step 2: Remove Dead and Diseased Stems

Remove Dead and Diseased

Remove Dead and Diseased

When pruning, cut out any wood that is dead, diseased, and damaged. Then use sharp pruners to remove one in three of the congested stems, targeting the old and weak growth.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Cut out any wood that is dead, diseased, and damaged. Then use sharp pruners to remove one in three of the congested stems, targeting the old and weak growth.

Step 3: Shorten the Stems

Shorten the Stems

Shorten the Stems

After cutting back dead wood, shorten the remaining stems to a pair of strong, healthy buds, or new shoots, as shown here. Pay particular attention to crowded shoots in the center of the plant.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Shorten the remaining stems to a pair of strong, healthy buds, or new shoots, as shown here. Pay particular attention to crowded shoots in the center of the plant.

Step 4: Remove Crossed Stems

Remove Crossed Stems

Remove Crossed Stems

When pruning early-blooming shrubs, remove any stems that are crossing and rubbing against each other. Also prune out shoots that are growing toward the middle of the plant.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Remove any stems that are crossing and rubbing against each other. Also prune out shoots that are growing toward the middle of the plant.

Step 5: Reduce the Height If Necessary

Down a Notch

Down a Notch

Reduce the height of a shrub if necessary. Take down the tallest stems, cutting back to healthy, outward-facing shoots or buds.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Take down the tallest stems, cutting back to healthy, outward-facing shoots or buds.

Step 6: The Result

Pruned Shrub

Pruned Shrub

The pruned shrub is shorter and the congestion has been reduced. New growth will soon appear from the base and below pruning cuts, resulting in more flowers.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

The pruned shrub is shorter and the congestion has been reduced. New growth will soon appear from the base and below pruning cuts, resulting in more flowers.

Next Up

Pruning Early-Flowering Shrubs

Eager shrubs that flower in early summer should be trimmed when blooms fade. Follow these simple steps to inspire new blossoms.

How to Prune Shrubs

When you prune a shrub depends mostly on when it blooms. Here are the basics of pruning woody plants.

How to Prune Late-Flowering Shrubs

Shrubs that arrive a bit late to the blooming game should be trimmed in early spring. Follow these simple steps to inspire new blossoms.

Renovating a Flowering Shrub

To reduce shrubs' size and width and rejuvenate them, follow these pruning techniques.

How to Prune Rose Bushes

Bush roses include hybrid teas and floribundas, both of which need to be pruned hard each year to encourage new growth.

How to Grow Flowering Quince

These gorgeous flowering shrubs will brighten up any dreary winter yard.

Camellia: How to Care for and Grow

These Southern belle charmers stand up beautifully to Old Man Winter.

How to Prune Old-Fashioned Roses

Old-fashioned roses such as albas, mosses and damasks are pruned lightly in summer after the first flush of flowers.

How to Prune Climbing Roses

Climbing roses are best pruned in late summer, when you can see the shoots more easily.