This Week at TLC

TLC is hiring!

Tips of the Month

🇺🇸 10% Military Discount EVERY DAY of the year 🇺🇸

TLC Flagship Garden Center - Memorial

105 W. Memorial Road
Oklahoma City, OK 73114

(405) 751-0630

Monday-Saturday | 9am to 6pm
Sunday | 11am to 6pm

TLC Northwest

8208 Northwest Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK 73162

(405) 720-0091

Monday-Saturday | 9am to 6pm
Sunday | 11am to 6pm

When to Prune Your Trees, Shrubs & Grasses

A Guide to Proper Pruning


Most trees should be pruned while they are dormant and sap is not flowing, which is between December and February. The few exceptions are those that bleed sap profusely if pruned after the sap starts to rise in February. These free bleeders include birch, maple, elm, willow and walnut, and must be pruned in January. Live oak and southern magnolia don’t go dormant, and pruning should be done in mid-March. Trees that can be winter pruned include fruit and pecan trees, bramble, berries, privet, honeysuckle and grape vines.

Evergreen Shrubs

Hollies, euonymus, boxwood and other broadleaf evergreens – as well as needled evergreens – may be pruned anytime. However, if they are to be severely pruned, they will look better if pruned just before new growth starts in the spring, generally from March 1 to 15.

Flowering Shrubs

Spring flowering shrubs that bloom on last year’s growth, such as forsythia, quince, azaleas, mock orange, spiraeas, weigela, lilacs, snowball, wisteria, spring blooming hydrangeas and some climbing roses, should be pruned immediately after their blooming period. Pruning before blooming removes their buds.

Summer flowering shrubs such as althea, buddleia, desert willow and vitex should be pruned just before new growth starts in the spring, generally from March 1 to early April.

Crape Myrtle

More and more crape myrtles are being pruned improperly. Although the common practice of “topping” crape myrtles does not kill the tree, it can result in trees declining in health after years of improper pruning.

Crape myrtles should be pruned in late March through early April. When pruning a crape myrtle, plants should be thinned and not topped. Remove branches that rub against each other. Prune out branches that cross each other or are in competition with each other. Remove branches that do not contribute to the overall growth direction or shape that you desire for the tree. Also, eliminate suckers at the base of the tree and watersprouts (vigorous upright growth) in the tree canopy.

If a crape myrtle becomes too large for a certain location, it was planted either in the wrong spot in the landscape or the wrong variety was selected. In addition to flower color, select crape myrtles for size at maturity.

Ornamental Grasses

Prune ornamental grasses – such as pampas, maiden, fountain or muhly grass – back to the ground to remove dead growth. Prune any dead out of hardy grasses, such as “Monkey” (also called “Liriope”). Pruning should be done on all grasses in early to mid-March.


The right time to prune hydrangea bushes varies, and is not an exact science. Keep in mind that pruning hydrangeas is not always necessary, and unless the situation calls for it, they can simply be left alone. Removal of spent blooms and dead stems each year should be adequate for maintaining healthy hydrangea bushes. You can safely remove spent blooms (deadhead) anytime. Try to keep cuts above the first set of large leaves or only cut down to the last healthy buds. This ensures the safety of any developing blooms for the next season.

When pruning hydrangea bushes that have become overgrown, cut stems to the ground. Although this may delay blooming the following season, it helps revitalize the plants. All types of hydrangeas respond well to occasional pruning, but it’s important to know what variety you have as hydrangea pruning care varies. Below is a brief list of hydrangea species and varieties and pruning times.

Bigleaf (Hydrangea macrophylla)
Blooms on old wood: rebloomers also flower on new wood. Do not prune.
Varieties Include Endless Summer, Bloomstruck, Blushing Bride, Twist N Shout, Summer Crush, Nantucket, Fuchsia Glow, Cityline and Let’s Dance.

Panicle (hydrangea paniculata)
Blooms on new wood. Prune in early spring. Varieties include Limelight, Little Lime, Bobo, and Quick Fire.

Smooth (Hydrangea arborescens)
Blooms on new wood; some are rebloomers. Prune in early spring. Varieties include Annabelle and Incrediball.

Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia)
Blooms on old wood. Do not prune. Varieties include Alice, Ruby Slippers and Ellen Huff.


Wait to prune established bush roses until mid-March. Pruning can be done as late as the second week of April. Prune to remove dead, diseased, and damaged canes. Then prune to knee height at an outward facing bud.

Climbing roses are best pruned after their first flush of spring blooms and are pruned by removing entire canes all the way to the ground to encourage an open, vase-shaped habit.

Most climbing roses bloom on new growth, but they’ll bloom more if pruning is done after their first flush of blooms.


It is not difficult to do, but you should prune plants according to their habits. Plants can be ruined by improper pruning. It’s better not to prune at all than to do it wrong. Ensure you know what you’re doing by talking to an expert at TLC Garden Centers.

Didn't Find What You Were Looking For?

Use the search bar to search our site for information about TLC, plant care tips, and more.

Sign up for emails and get a 10% off coupon when you join the club!