Wisconsin’s Ultimate Pruning Guide for Trees, Shrubs and Perennials

The pruning guide you’ve been searching for. We turn ordinary people into expert gardeners by giving you secret information like this. Our team of gardeners have anywhere from 5 to 30 years of experience. We know what it feels like to get frustrated and struggle gardening, but we also know what it feels like to succeed and overcome obstacles. We’re in the gardening journey with you and are here to help! Check out this guide and pruning video at the bottom to become an expert on how and when to prune your plants. 

Additional Planting and Pruning Info @ McKay Nursery Company

All fruit trees               Late winter is best
Alder                                 Late May-June (minor pruning earlier)
Amelanchier                   Anytime, after bloom
Ash                                    Anytime if treated
Birch                                Minor pruning in early spring (not May-Aug)
Black Walnut                   January-March
Butternut                         January-March
Catalpa                             Anytime
Crabapples                    Late winter / early spring before bloom
Elm                                    April-July
Ginko                               Anytime
Hackberry                         Anytime
Hawthorn                    Late winter to early spring
Hazelnut                           Anytime
Honeylocust                Late winter (when dry; also in June)
Horsechestnut                                 Late winter, early spring
Ironwood                      Early spring
Ivory Silk Lilac                  Only after flowering 
Kentucky Coffeetree       Anytime
Linden                               Anytime
Magnolia                         Only after bloom
Maple                             May-summer is best 
Mountain Ash              Later winter / early spring
Mulberry                         Anytime
Oak                              November-March (to prevent oak wilt)
Pears                                 After bloom is best
Plum                                 After bloom is best
Poplar                              Late winter / early spring
Redbud                             After bloom is best
Willow                              Late winter / early spring, less canker
Althea                               Anytime, Blooms on new wood
Amelanchier                   Anytime, After bloom is best if want to enjoy
Aronia                               Renewal prune
Barberry                           Anytime, Renewal prune in spring
Boxwood                          Anytime-July
Buddlia                            Early spring, 6″ from ground
Caryopteris                      Early spring, 6″ from ground
Clethra                              Early spring
Cotoneaster                     After bloom is best
Alpine currant                 Anytime
Diervilla                            Anytime
Dogwood                          Anytime, Renewal pruning in spring
Elderberry                        Early spring, Severely prune
Forsythia                           After bloom in spring
F. Bronx & Citrus Swizzle Anytime
Fothergilla                        Prune after flowering to shape
Hazelnut                           Early spring, Renewal prune
Honeysuckle                    Early spring, Renewal prune/shape anytime
Hydrangea Arborescens Types:  Annabelle, Invincibelle® Spirit, Samantha, Ryan Gainey Cut down to a foot or less each spring before they start to grow
Hydrangea Macrophylla Types: Endless Summer, Grateful Red Trim to live wood in spring and remove old blooms
Hydrangea Paniculata Types: Bobo, Limelight, Little Lime, Mega Pearl, Pee Gee, Phantom, Pink Diamond, Pinky Winky®, Quick Fire®, Silver Dollar, Strawberry Sundae™, Tardiva, Unique, Vanilla Strawberry™ Before new growth in spring ONLY! Prune to desired size and shape Usually removing about ⅓ of the overall size
All Tree Form Hydrangea Paniculata Types Trim the head back to about 2′ before it starts to grow in early spring
Hypericum                       Early spring
Ilex                                     Renewal prune late winter/early spring
Kerria                                Early spring severely
Lilac                             Immediately after bloom ONLY! And, renewal prune removing the oldest stems out at the ground level
Maple shrubs                   Anytime
Mockorange                   Immediately after bloom, Can be cut severely 
Ninebark                           After bloom, Renewal prune if needed
Potentilla                          Spring, Take out some old wood to ground
Privet                                Anytime, Renewal prune
Prunus                              After bloom
Quince                               After bloom
Rhododendron/ Azelea                               Immediately after bloom, Lightly
Snowberry                       Early spring, before new growth
Sorbaria                            Early spring, before new growth Spirea-Small
Spirea – small reblooming                      Early spring & right after first set of blooms
Spirea Grefsheim            After bloom
Spirea Prunifolia              After bloom 
Spirea Renaissance          After bloom 
Spirea Snowmound’     After bloom 
Spirea Van Houtteii       After bloom 
Stephanandra                  Anytime
Sumac – Most Varieties Early spring is best
Sumac Gro Low               Anytime for shape
Viburnum                         After bloom only or renewal prune in spring 
Weigelia                            After first bloom in June
Willow                              Before new growth in spring
Witchhazel                       Before new growth in spring  
Woadwaxen                     Shear before new growth in spring
Yucca                                 Early spring, remove damaged foliage
Rugosa Types: Belle, Poitevine, Blanc Double DeCoubert, F.J. Grootendorst, Hansa, Rugosa, Sir Thomas Lipton Early spring to 4-6″
Therese Bugnet, William Baffin Climber, Red Leaf Rose, Winners Circle Climber Blooms on last years wood. After bloom, remove blooming canes, leave new canes from base
Landscape Types: Including Knock Out® series, Drift Roses To good wood (4-6″) in spring / deadhead as needed
Arborvitae, Falsecypress, Hemlock, Junipers, Microbiota, Yews Early spring to before July 4th
Pines                                 Candle prune in May as new growth expands
Spruce & Fir                     Candle prune new growth when tenderHead back new growth as needed for maintaining form if necessary
All Perennials                  Late fall or early spring (See separate care sheet)
All Grasses                       Early spring only!

Watch this video for how to prune and why it is crucial to your plants longevity, health and happiness.

See this video & more on our YouTube page!

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