Skip to content

Pruning shrubs and trees during frost: When is the best time for a caring pruning in winter?

In late winter, there is a lot of work to be done in the kitchen garden. This includes rejuvenation pruning for fruit trees. It brings them into the desired shape, so that later you can pick the fruit easier and promotes flowering and fruiting. But what should you do when temperatures drop below 0° Celsius in January and February? Still cut the shrubs and trees, or wait for frost?

Which woody plants are pruned in winter, even in frost?

Cutting fruit trees in frost instructions

Especially fruit shrubs need a caring pruning. The rule of thumb is: pome fruit trees such as quince, apple, pear, nashi or medlar are pruned in late winter, preferably in February and March. The time of pruning is also favorable because the trees still have time to recover from pruning. Sub-zero temperatures are not a problem for them, but you should be very careful. This is because during frost the wood is drier than usual. So it is possible that individual branches break, causing damage to the tree.

Most berry bushes also tolerate pruning in the cold season without any problems. From the beginning of March, the winter dormancy ends and the woody plants sprout again, first form flowers and then also bear fruit. In this case, too, use sharp scissors or a saw so that the branches do not break.

Stone fruits are usually pruned only in late summer, after the end of the harvest season. Peaches are an exception – they are pruned back in February, just like pome fruits.

Pruning shrubs and trees: When to thin out woody plants in the ornamental garden?

Ball trees are enjoying growing popularity. These are mostly ornamental trees such as black locust, ball maple and trumpet tree. In this case, pruning is also allowed by law until the first of March. The evergreen ornamental trees tolerate problem pruning during frost, deciduous trees are better to cut on frost-free days.

Pruning hedge during frost

Hedge plants can easily tolerate pruning at temperatures as low as -8° Celsius. However, if it gets even colder, then the interfaces can freeze. To prevent this, plan the pruning a few days in advance. It is best to do this task on a dry day.

Pruning shrubs and trees: Until when is pruning allowed?

Pruning shrubs and trees in winter instructions

Pruning for fruit and ornamental shrubs is allowed until March 1. From then on, the breeding season of birds begins and severe pruning is therefore not permitted.

Small pruning measures such as cutting off individual branches and removing diseased plant parts are also permitted after March 1. However, you should always make sure that there are no nesting birds in the area.

Exceptions: If individual branches or the entire tree is no longer stable after a storm and is therefore considered dangerous, then you can have it cut down later. It is important to first have a tree surveyor inspect the root zone and soil conditions and prepare a tree fall permit.

Sick or dangerous trees can be felled during frost: is this possible?

Sick or dangerous trees must be cut down. The most favorable time for this is actually in winter, when there is frost. This is because the trees are then in winter dormancy. They do not grow, the tree sap flows much slower and the wood is drier than in spring or summer. This makes the work much easier, and chopping up the large pieces of wood is also very simple. In addition, when the ground is frozen through, it is much easier to drive vehicles through the garden and transport the wood.

Pruning shrubs and trees in frosty weather: what to consider?

Cut woody plants in frost or not

Shrubs and trees usually recover quite well from spring pruning. Proper technique is critical to the end result. First, plan the pruning in detail – which branches and twigs need to be cut so that the tree has a pyramid shape? Removed are all sickly branches that grow inward. Water sprouts should also be removed in the spring, because they do not bear fruit, but consume valuable nutrients. Old branches that bore little or no fruit last year should also be cut off. You can also do additional thinning of the tree crown so that all branches can get enough sunlight. Dead wood is cut back as close to the tree trunk as possible.

Diseased branches and water shoots are cut back to a branch ring. Old wood is pruned above an outward-facing bud. The pruning wounds do not need to be sealed.

Here’s how to prune back fruit bushes in sub-zero temperatures

Raspberries require annual pruning. This is usually done in the fall, before the first frost. However, if you missed the right time, you still have a second chance in February. Raspberries are pruned back close to the ground, preferably on a frost-free day, but compulsorily when the temperature is below zero.

Blueberries are very sensitive to frost, so you should cut them back only on frost-free days.

Currants are thinned out in the spring , about mid to late February. This maintenance pruning is necessary so that all shoots get enough sunlight.