Last Updated On: November 1st, 2019
Are your trees and shrubs looking scraggly, unkempt, or displaying visible dead branches this Winter?
You can prune during the winter, you just need to be aware of a couple of things and learn the correct techniques.
In this podcast episode, 32 - "Winter Pruning Do's and Don'ts," we'll explain why you should prune, how to best prune during the winter, and what not to do.
This episode is meant for any level of gardener who wants to learn how to prune in their yard this winter.
The Do's and Don'ts of Winter Pruning
Yep, that's right! You can totally prune during the winter months. You just need a little know-how and some tips on how to actually do it.
What pruning is and how to do it this winter ...you can read this article for some more detailed info.
First, we need to talk about what you are doing when you prune your plants.
When you prune any plant, you are redirecting energies of that plant to other areas where growth can occur.
Of course, the old cliché "timing is everything" holds true even when pruning.
Think of "Timing"
As it refers to our 3 pre-qualifiers before you prune.
The 3 pre-qualifiers are:
- The timing of plant flowering,
- The timing of the coldest temperatures in your local area
- Overall plant's general health.
Are you going to prune before the plant is done flowering?
Will you be pruning during the coldest times of the year in your local area or climate zone?
Does your plant have any major health issues that would stop you from pruning it?
If you answer yes to ANY of these questions, then YOU SHOULD NOT PRUNE YOUR PLANT! Period.
If you would like to get a primer on other garden maintenance tasks you should be doing, read our garden maintenance page for more.
So to prune this winter:
- DO prune if you see any dead or dying plant tissues.
- DO prune if you also see rubbing or crossing branches in the plants canopy.
- DO Prune if a plant needs to be shaped or reshaped.
- DON'T prune any plant that is not healthy enough.
- DON'T prune any plant that hasn't finished flowering.
- DON'T prune if the temperatures in your local area are still at or below freezing.
- DON'T prune if your plant is stressed.
For plants that bloom multiple times during a year, be sure to only prune after they have completed a blooming cycle. You won't disrupt them in the middle of their reproductive cycle that way.
By the way, these Do's and Don'ts follow our 3-Pillars of Pruning System, which we are getting closer to publishing as an eBook, so keep an eye out for it in the next month or two.
For a primer, The "3 Pillars of Pruning" you can click here!
Some things to keep in mind:
- Never cut more than 1/3 of the plant away or you can get severe root die-back.
- Before you make your pruning cut, track the stem or limb back to where you want to make the cut and try to imagine the plant without that material. If you can't imagine the plant without this material you want to cut out, then don't do it. Maybe look to cut only half of the limb and then reassess.
Check out our tool list of reviewed and recommended tools by reading our posts called the Best Pruning Tools for 2019 and the 7 Best Garden Tools for your Winter Pruning Needs!
Winter Pruning Do's and Don'ts Conclusion
If you choose to prune this winter, you now have some foundation knowledge to start cleaning up and shaping your plants.
Each plant species can react differently to pruning and depending on how the plant grows, its environment, and its health will determine how it redirects its growth.
Always check the 3-Pre-Qualifiers before pruning any plant and be sure to follow our 3 Pillars of Pruning system!
Have fun pruning your plants and remember to be safe!
That's all for this podcast episode!
You can find other episodes and topics on our podcast page at spokengarden.com/podcast
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We have FREE garden content we are so excited to give to you, like cheat sheets, plant profile sheets, etc! See you there!
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Winter Pruning Do's and Don'ts
Learn why you should prune in the winter, how to prune, and what not to do.
How to Prune Like A Pro Cheat Sheet in our free resource library.
What You'll Learn:
- Why you should prune during the winter
- How you can prune during the winter
- Best practices for pruning in the winter
- What NOT to do regarding winter pruning
Some of the resources and products below may be affiliate links, meaning we might get paid a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.
- Winter Pruning: How to Best Prune Your Garden This Winter
- Pruning Basics: Where to Make Your Pruning Cuts - DIY Garden Minute Ep. 55
- Pruning Basics Explained: Thinning Cuts vs. Heading Cuts - DIY Garden Minute Ep. 51
- Best Pruning Shears For Any Gardener!
- Understanding Basic Plant Growth - DIY Garden Minute Ep. 30
Other Gardening Products Related To This Podcast You Might Not Have:
- Best pruning shears
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- Blower: hand-held or backpack, gas or electric
- Leaf Rake: metal or plastic
- Hard Rake: metal