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.

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