Why Late Winter is the Best Time to Prune

Most would be surprised to learn that winter is the best time to prune your deciduous plants. Though it might be frigid and snowy outside, pruning plants in the winter months while they lay dormant promotes fast regrowth come spring.

Proper pruning can enhance the health and look of your trees and shrubs. Winter is a good time because most woody plants are dormant and so too are the many insects and diseases that could potential invade at the location of the pruning cuts.

Why is Winter Pruning Important?

Why is Winter Pruning Important? Winter pruning is beneficial for your plants, providing them with extra root and energy reserves to quickly heal wounds and support vigorous spring growth that will obscure the pruning cuts.

Other than reducing plant size and maintaining the shape or appearance of the tree or shrub; pruning removes dead and diseased growth. It also thins out center branching that will help to maintain plant health. For example, Hydrangeas and Shrub Roses benefit greatly from the removal of interior branches. This opens up air circulation and is great for keeping diseases in check.


Late winter pruning dormant trees and shrubs revitalizes the plants and allows for plentiful new spring growth. Winter pruning limits the exposure of the pruned zones before the growing cycle starts. Additionally, the dead growth or cross branches are far easier to see if you have a deciduous tree or shrub.

When Is The Best Time To Winter Prune?

It is always best to prune in late January – early March. The goal is to prune approximately 4-6 weeks before the spring warmth begins but after the severe colds pass your area.

What Should Be Pruned In Winter?

Your typical pruning of cross branches in trees is best done at this time.  Also, prune any dead or overgrown trees or shrubs. However, not all plant materials need to pruning during this time. Here is a list of trees and shrubs that benefit greatly from winter pruning.

Fruiting Trees:  Apples, Crab Apples, Pears, and Plumbs.

Summer Flowering Trees:   Crape Myrtles, Rose of Sharron, Vitex, and Smoke Trees.

Shrubs:  Burning Bush, Hydrangeas, Roses, Japanese Spirea, Dogwoods, and Potentillas.