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Why Are We Pruning in the Winter?

Updated: Jan 18, 2023


 
by Amy Hilgert, Account Manager

Once upon a cold winter day in Ohio, while you and your family are warm inside your homes, you look outside and what do you see? Maybe you spy an M.J. crew member armed with their trusty pruning shears trimming your shrubs. Now, why the heck would we be out in the middle of winter pruning your plants? You may already know the answer to this question, but if you do not know and are curious, we will enlighten you!


The answer is simple… The gray, still days of winter are the perfect time to prune trees and many woody shrubs. We definitely consider ourselves plant nerds over here at M.J. Design, and we take plant health very seriously—which is why one of the most important tasks we complete every year is winter pruning.


Pruning the right plant at the correct time of the year is a landscape process that can boost the vigor, health, and overall aesthetics of your shrubs and trees.


 

Here is a compiled list of winter pruning benefits:


  • Most woody plants go dormant during the winter months, as do the many insects and diseases that can possibly invade pruning wounds. Hence, pruning when the weather is cold prohibits newly pruned trees and shrubs from infection.

  • It is much easier to see the form and structure of your plants after they have defoliated, which makes it easier to see diseased and damaged branches when the leaves are gone.

  • Pruning when the plant is still active, even in the late fall, can stimulate new growth that may not harden off by the time a cold front comes rolling in. With winter pruning, we do not have to worry about this.

  • Winter pruning provides plants with extra energy and root reserves, so they can rapidly recover and heal pruning wounds. This produces healthy, robust new spring growth that will conceal pruning cuts.

  • Pruning out diseased or broken branches now will prevent them from toppling to the ground later, potentially harming people or property.

  • Pruned trees and shrubs live longer! Pruning actually makes a plant stronger, which means trees and shrubs can better stand up to storms, high wind, ice and snow.

  • Pruning improves a plant’s air circulation which keeps diseases from striking.

 

So, look for us this winter—hopefully it’ll be a sunny day—because this cold season is a great time to prune! Pruning shrubs in winter can pay off big for gardens come springtime. Please note that winter is not the right time to prune all shrubs…As most summer-flowering shrubs don’t create their flower buds until spring, so pruning them in winter won’t affect their bloom, BUT spring-flowering species such as forsythia and lilacs already have their flower buds in winter, so pruning them now will remove some potential blooms. It does not necessarily hurt the shrub, but will lessen the number of flowers in the spring.


Call 614-873-7333 if you need to schedule an appointment.


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