- Shrubs that bloom in spring flower on old wood and should be pruned just after those blooms fade. They need to be left alone to put on growth during the summer and set bud for the following spring. If you prune too late, you miss out on some or all flowering next year.
- Shrubs that bloom in summer flower on new wood (produced during the current year’s spring season). They are often pruned in late winter or very early spring. This still gives them most or all of the spring to put on growth and set the buds that, come summer, will become flowers.
Note that, in some genera, not every species can be pigeonholed into the same category. Thus, as I explain in my article, Shrubs That Bloom on New Wood, you have to consider hydrangeas and spireas on a case by case basis. That is, you can’t say that all hydrangeas flower on new wood or that all spireas bloom on old growth.
Marie Iannotti points to a similar situation with roses, making it difficult to generalize about optimal pruning times. Interestingly, some types of hydrangeas fall into both categories; they are called “reblooming hydrangeas.”
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