When to Prune. There is important pruning that can be done anytime — namely, the removal of dead, weak, damaged, or crossing branches. But poorly timed pruning, like that done in the fall or early winter, can injure a plant and stunt or even eliminate its foliage and flower production. What follows are the three recommended pruning "seasons" for various common trees and shrubs across the country. Stick to this schedule to keep plants healthy and maximize blossoms. When in doubt, Roger Cook suggests, postpone pruning until right after the plant flowers.

Prune summer-flowering plants, which will flower on the coming season's new growth, while they are still dormant. Their bare limbs make it easy to see the plant's structure, and the flush of spring growth will quickly heal wounds. Prune random-branching conifers once new growth is visible.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa species)
Bumald spiraea (Spiraea bumalda)
Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)
Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)
Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Japanese spiraea (Spiraea japonica)
Nandina (Nandina domestica)
Privet (Ligistrum species)
Repeat-flowering roses (Rosa species)
Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
Summersweet (Clethra species)
Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)

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