What plants benefit from a late winter pruning?

Last Updated on: 4th March 2024, 07:31 am

late winter pruning

Here’s what plants to prune in the late winter and which to leave alone.

As the owner of Tayloe’s Lawn Care Services, I often get calls from homeowners asking about the best time for a late winter pruning of their shrubs, hedges and ornamental trees. They also want to know when to clean out beds and schedule the first grass-cutting of the season. The answer is now, and Tayloe’s Lawn Care is here to help.

This short article will explain which shrubs and trees benefit from a shaping up during this season and why you should not even think about pruning your azaleas right now.

Shrubs That Need Late Winter Pruning in Zones 7b and 8a:

  • Roses: Late winter is the perfect time to prune most roses in North Carolina. Pruning before the buds break helps shape the plant and encourages vigorous, healthy shoots.

  • Hydrangeas: The pruning approach for hydrangeas depends on the variety. For example, panicle and smooth hydrangeas should have a nice shaping up before the end of late winter, as they bloom on new wood that will soon develop.

  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia): Prune these in late winter to encourage new growth and more prolific blooming.

  • Summer-flowering Spirea: These shrubs benefit from late winter pruning to promote vigorous summer blooms.

  • Crepe Myrtle: Pruning in late winter helps the crepe myrtle keep a nicer shape and encourages more blooms.

  • Fruit Trees: Late winter is the best time to prune many fruit trees. A late winter trimming helps open the canopy, allowing for better air circulation and sunlight penetrating the tree’s interior; however, timing is everything – trim them after they form buds, you’ll lose the fruits for the season.

  • Photinia (Red Tip): Prune in late winter to manage its rapid growth and maintain its vibrant red foliage.

  • Holly: Pruning in late winter is ideal for shaping and encouraging new growth on this evergreen.

  • Ligustrum (Privet): Pruning in late winter helps control their size and shape.

  • Boxwood: Pruning in late winter is essential for maintaining the boxwood’s formal appearance. Because they usually look bare after pruning, you want to give them the soon-longer spring daylight to encourage a quicker recovery.

butterfly bush

Azaleas and rhododendrons do not benefit from a late-winter pruning

I have many clients with gorgeous azaleas and rhododendrons. Avoid pruning them in the winter or spring. Repeat: Do not prune azaleas in the winter or spring. Here’s why. Azaleas and rhododendrons typically start forming their flower buds in late summer or early fall for the following spring. Pruning them in late winter means you’ll likely be cutting off many of these buds, significantly reducing the plant’s blooming potential for that year.

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The Takeaway: It’s Time for Late-Winter Yard Care, and Team Tayloe is Here to Help!

Late winter pruning is crucial for maintaining the health and beauty of your landscape in zones 7b and 8a. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your shrubs are well-prepared for the growing season. 

Does all that trimming seem like an overwhelming amount of work? Not a problem – we are available to help!

Late winter and early spring services we can help you accomplish:

  • Late Winter Bed Cleanouts: Get rid of the winter debris and prepare your beds for spring planting.

  • Hedge and shrub trimming: We’ll shape and prune your ornamental trees and shrubs to promote healthy growth and enhance the aesthetics of your garden.

  • First Grass Cutting of the Season: Kick off the season with a neatly trimmed lawn, setting the stage for a year of lush, green grass.

I can do lawn care and garden bed clean-outs in all of Bertie County and the Hertford County communities of Ahoskie, Murfreesboro, Millennium, St. John’s, and Union. I live in the Aulander, North Carolina area.

Book Tayloe’s Lawn Care Services Today

Call or text us at 252.287.3376

Author Profile

Randy Tayloe
Randy Tayloe
Randy Tayloe is the COO of Tayloe's Lawn Care Service, LLC. He is a certified custom applicator, recognized by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture Pesticide Division. A native of Bertie County, NC, and graduate of Bertie High School, he wants to beautify his home county - one yard at a time.
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