Posted on Dec 6, 2023 at 10:04 am by James T
The time for the first frost is approaching quickly, and it is important to prepare your garden for the arrival of the winter season. A recurring question arises: should we prune our perennial plants and shrubs before winter? Here are some tips to help you choose the right time, technique, and main types of plants to prune in autumn.
Table of Contents
Why prune plants before winter?
Pruning allows plants to regenerate, control their growth and orientation, promote abundant flowering, and reduce the risk of diseases. For most plants, the ideal period to perform this intervention is between leaf fall and bud emergence.
However, some people choose to leave the stems and leaves in place during autumn to provide natural protection against the cold and insulate the roots.
Maintenance pruning and cleaning pruning
There are two main types of pruning:
– Maintenance pruning consists of cutting dead or damaged branches throughout the year.
– Cleaning pruning aims to aerate and revitalize the plant during its vegetative rest period (autumn or winter).
While many plants benefit from autumn pruning to promote flowering the following spring, it is important to note that some should not be pruned as it could damage them or even lead to their death by disrupting their growth cycle.
Plants and shrubs to prune + the ideal time to prune them
Start by considering the size of flowering bulbs.
With the diversity of plants thriving in our gardens, it is evident that although not all require pruning before the cold season, the list remains substantial! First, think of bulbs such as Crocuses, Dahlias, Gladioli, Irises, Hyacinths, Daffodils, Grape Hyacinths, Ranunculuses, Tulips, and many others. These flowering bulbs need to be cut, while the more delicate ones need to be dug up and protected.
Pruning Climbing Plants and Shrubs
Climbing plants like Trumpet Vines (Campsis), Clematis, Ivy, or Grapevines will benefit from pruning to restore their structure and strengthen their base. In autumn, hedge shrubs can also be pruned. Laurels, Hibiscus, Bamboos, Photinias, Forsythias will experience enhanced growth and denser foliage in spring if pruned before winter.
Pruning Roses Before Winter… or Not!
For roses, the decision depends on the regional climate. In the South, pruning before winter is possible, while in the North, it is preferable to wait until winter has passed.
Pruning Perennial Plants Before Winter
Pruning perennials before winter provides benefits to plants that require autumn maintenance, even if it only involves cleaning, including the removal of faded flowers and dead parts.
Vegetable Garden Maintenance
Don’t forget your vegetable garden! Harvest all the plants before winter, as few of them can withstand winter temperatures. To preserve aromatic plants like basil, parsley, mint, or chives, it is essential to cut them before they wither. As for vegetables, remove the plants to allow the soil to rest in preparation for new plantings. Fruit trees can be pruned to promote growth in spring.
Some tips for proper pruning
Sensitive areas: Avoid cutting branches too close to the collar and grafting point (the area where a plant has been grafted onto another).
Tools: Use appropriate, well-sharpened, and disinfected tools to prevent the risk of infections.
Gentle on the plant: Never prune more than one-third of a plant to avoid weakening it.
In summary, pruning plants and shrubs before winter ensures their proper development, health, and abundant flowering when done correctly. Do not hesitate to consult specialized articles for each type of plant to succeed in these interventions.