Spring Pruning?

Asked February 28, 2017, 8:00 PM EST

Hi, I have a spirea, hydrangea and butterfly bush that I had been planning to prune while still dormant. I never expected spring to come so early. They are all budding now. Can I still prune them, or do I have to wait? If so, until when? Also, does there happen to be a good site or newsletter (specifically for Maryland) that gives gardeners monthly updates/tips/advice about when to do what, based upon the actual weather & seasonal conditions that year?

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

Spring bloomers are pruned after they bloom. If the spirea blooms in spring, pruning should wait.

Summer blooming shrubs (spirea possibly, and butterfly bush) can be pruned in spring. Go ahead and prune the butterfly bush (usually this means a "drastic pruning" back to a few inches from the ground.) Don't remove its big new shoots.

Hydrangea is the exception to summer blooming shrubs (assuming you have the typical mophead type). Hydrangea macrophylla should be pruned right after it finishes blooming in summer, as blue petals start to change color. They bloom on old wood, meaning the wood that grows one summer is the wood that produces flowers the next year. If you prune off healthy wood in the spring, you are cutting off the new flowers for that summer. Which means, there isn't a great time to prune a hydrangea to a shorter height without losing some flowers. Of course, you can always prune off dead wood.

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