When’s the right time to prune?

Is Autumn the “right” time to prune?

Not necessarily is the answer to that! As you will see from some of the examples in this guide it all depends on when they flower, if it is on last year’s growth or this year’s. As a general rule of thumb the best time for pruning flowering shrubs is immediately after they have flowered.

I have put together a quick checklist for a few of the most common garden shrubs, when they flower and when they need pruning. If you are not sure or you’ve got something a bit special it is probably best to seek expert help.


Flowers in March/April so needs pruning in April/May to keep it a nice bushy shape. Shorten the stems by about a third and remove any dead or damaged wood.


Flowers in July/August. A plant that is regularly maintained is pruned in August/September with the new stems taken back to the old wood and any dead or damaged wood or crossing stems removed.


Wisteria flowers in May/June and is pruned a couple of times a year to keep it in check and encourage flowering. In July/August after flowering all the long, whippy growth is reduced. It is then pruned again at the end of January/early February.


Lavender flowers throughout the summer. The finished flower stalks are removed in mid—late September. Take them off at the bottom of the stalk. Do NOT cut into the old wood on Lavender; it doesn’t like it and will die. When the plants become really leggy and woody unfortunately the only option is to replace them.

Philadelphus (Mock Orange)

This flowers in late Spring/ early Summer so prune July/August. Remove any dead or damaged wood. Cut back flowered growth to strong young buds lower down. On older plants removing about 1/5th of the old stems at the base will help encourage new, strong growth.


Weigela also flowers in late Spring / early Summer and should be treated in the same way as Philadelphus.

Abelia x grandiflora (sometimes known as glossy Abelia)

A semi-evergreen which flowers in late Summer/ Autumn. They don’t need much pruning; just a light trim over to remove dead flower heads and maintain shape. Also remove any dead or damaged stems.

Wisteria in early June covered in flowers

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