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Pruning shrubs: When is the right time to prune ornamental, climbing and fruit shrubs?

They give structure to the outdoor area, provide blooms and bear delicious fruit: shrubs fulfill many functions in the home garden and are an important design element for many amateur gardeners. Proper care guarantees that the shrubs will please the eye for years to come. This includes caring pruning in the spring. In today’s article, we’ll explain how to prune shrubs and why it’s so important.

Pruning shrubs: When and how?

Shrubs are divided into different groups. Depending on what purpose they serve in the home garden, there are ornamental shrubs, fruit shrubs, climbing shrubs and hedge shrubs. Ornamental shrubs are further divided into spring and summer bloomers. Below, we take a closer look at the different groups and provide tips regarding pruning.

Pruning summer flowering ornamental shrubs in February

Summer flowering ornamental shrubs cutting fat hen

Summer-flowering ornamental shrubs are traditionally pruned in the spring. Firstly, because they need a strong pruning to sprout again and form flowers. And such radical pruning is permitted by law until the end of February. Secondly, because this gives the plants enough time until the start of the season to recover, sprout again and form flowers.

Pruning Fat Hen: The fat hen is a good example of a summer-blooming shrub. Its old shoots, along with the inflorescences, dry up after the flowering season ends. Pruning in the fall is not recommended, however, because the fresh cuttings make the shrubs more susceptible to frost.

Pruning summer lilacs: The summer lilac also belongs to the group of summer-flowering plants. It is cut back vigorously in the spring to two pairs of eyes. The shrub grows quickly and luxuriantly and must therefore be thinned out every 2-3 years. In this case, the shoots that are down, weak and form few flowers, are completely removed.

Hibiscus cut when ornamental shrubs in February care

Pruning hibiscus: Garden hibiscus is also cut only in the spring. It is mainly given a topiary, if necessary, it can also be thinned out. To extend the flowering period, you can cut off the wilted flowers in the summer. However, from the end of August you should stop doing this, so that the plant can prepare for the coming autumn and winter. Young shoots suffer frost damage and pruning in the fall, the whole plant could die.

Cut beard flower: The bearded flower also needs to be cut back heavily in the spring. Very important here: remove dead or frostbitten shoots along with flower buds.

Prune bushes: It sometimes happens that frost-sensitive shrubs freeze completely in winter. Or that old shrubs no longer form flowers. In these cases, radical pruning is a last-ditch effort to rejuvenate the shrub. All shoots are cut off close to the ground. The shrub will not bloom again this year, but hopefully next.

Pruning spring flowering shrubs

Spring flowering shrubs pruning tips and instructions


Unlike summer-flowering shrubs, which form flowers only after pruning in the fall or spring, spring-flowering shrubs have already formed buds in the winter. Therefore, nurturing pruning should be considered for them only after the end of the flowering period.

Pruning fruit bushes: This is what you should pay attention to

Fruit bushes pruning how and when

Fruit bushes also need to be pruned annually to ensure that they produce abundant yields.

Pruning raspberries, raspberry bush

Raspberry bush pruning when to prune fruit bushes in spring (1)


Red and black raspberries require heavy pruning. The right time for this is in the fall, after the end of the harvest season. Alternatively, spring is a good time, preferably mid to late February.

Correct pruning of currants

Correctly cut currants tips and when

Currants require heavy pruning in the fall, after the end of the harvest season. If you missed this time, you have a second chance in the spring. Red and white currants are given a rejuvenation pruning. This means that half of the main shoots are cut above the first “eye”. In contrast, black currant is cut only those shoots that are at the very bottom and those shoots that are weakened and do not yield. Pruning the main shoots is much gentler: they are cut every two-three years above the third branch.

Pruning shrubs: Blackberries

With blackberries, only the old canes are cut off each year. The young shoots will form flowers in the coming season and then bear fruit. The young shoots can be easily identified: They are not yet woody and have a light green color.

Climbing shrubs: pruning vines

Climbing shrubs correct cutting vines

Unlike the other fruit-bearing shrubs, vines are necessarily cut back in the fall.

When to cut hedge shrubs?

When to cut hedge shrubs tips around pruning in spring

It’s also best to prune hedge shrubs in the spring, then possibly just give them a topiary in the spring.

Pruning dwarf shrubs

Summer heather pruning tips and instructions

Dwarf shrubs are specially bred varieties with a compact growth habit. Most dwarf shrubs are ornamental, although there are also fruit-bearing varieties. When to prune each dwarf shrub species depends closely on the flowering season.  Summer-flowering shrubs can be pruned in February. Spring-flowering species and cultivars are pruned after the flowering period ends. We list two examples below.

Cut summer heather

Summer heather is a compact dwarf shrub that reaches a growth height of 40 cm. The right time for a caring pruning is the end of February. This involves thinning out the summer heather and cutting off the shoots that have become very woody and dried out. Deep pruning is not an option.

Pruning finger shrub

Finger shrub pruning ornamental shrubs pruning point

Unlike summer heather, foxglove is one of the spring-flowering shrubs that should be pruned after flowering. The shrub can easily tolerate heavy pruning, but it is not legally allowed in the spring. Therefore, after flowering only the flowers are cut off.