The Best Time to Prune Trees and Shrubs

By Christina Timm

Things to Consider Before You Prune Back Trees and Shrubs

There have been a lot of questions about the best time to prune back trees and shrubs. There are two factors that determine the best time to prune: 1.) If your tree or shrub blooms and if it does 2.) when does your tree or shrub bloom? There are exceptions to the rule so be sure to do some research or call 763-420-4400 and ask for Donna before you prune.

General Rule for Pruning Trees and Shrubs


Spring blooming tree or shrub: If your tree or shrub blooms in the spring time, it is best to prune when the flowers are done blooming and have faded.

Summer blooming tree or shrub: If your tree or shrub blooms mid to late summer, it is best to prune during the winter while the plant is dormant, or early spring before it blooms.

Tree or shrub that does not bloom: If you have a tree that does not bloom at all, it is best to prune during the winter while it is fully dormant, or any other time other than Fall.

Do Not Prune Any Type of Tree or Shrub in the Fall.

Fall is never a good time to prune. Any time you prune a plant its natural reaction is to produce new growth. If this happens in the fall the plant will not harden off properly and will have trouble going into dormancy. This can cause problems in the spring and can even cause problems coming back.

For Trees: Dead branches should always be removed as soon as possible.


When thinking about pruning a Hydrangea shrub there are two things to think about: 1.) what time of the year to prune and 2.) how much to prune back. Just like with any other tree or shrub it’s important not to prune back the foliage in the fall


So, when is the best time to prune a Hydrangea?

The best time to prune for a Hydrangea is right after it blooms, and the flowers start to fade. Something you may not have known is that blooming plants start forming their buds for spring the fall beforehand. So, if you wait too long to prune, there is potential that you are reducing your amount of spring buds. The absolute latest you can prune your Hydrangeas is August 1st. This way you can ensure you are not cutting away any buds that will become spring flowers.

So how much do I prune back?

For Hydrangea shrubs it’s important not to prune the entire shrub back! Some hydrangeas bloom on existing wood. This means new blooms emerge from old wood. If you prune back a Hydrangea shrub to the ground removing the old wood, you are also removing any new buds for its next bloom time. Not all Hydrangeas bloom from existing wood, but it is still recommended not to completely hack down the shrub. Play it safe; for any Hydrangea wait until the flowers have faded and then remove the flower head to about 12-20” down.

Garden Tip: Cut Hydrangea flowers can be hung upside down to dry out and then used in spruce tip arrangements for the holidays.



The best time to prune newly planted Rose Shrubs is early spring. So just after spring’s final frost and after the plant breaks from dormancy prune roses back. Also, you should never be pruning your roses down to the ground unless there is severe damage, dead wood, or disease. Most established Rose shrubs can handle a harsh pruning, cutting 1/2 to 2/3 of the shrub’s height. This helps older shrubs rejuvenate by removing old, woody stems.


The best time to prune a Lilac shrub is right after the flowers turn brown. Lilacs are early bloomers and they set their buds early for the next year. This means any pruning in June or later in the season takes away any new bud formation for the following year. Most Lilacs don’t need any pruning until they reach about six to eight feet tall.

Learn the difference between freeze and frost.

Growing Fall Color

By Christina Timm

Fall is a wonderful time of warm, rich colors. From perennials to shrubs to trees it isn’t hard to find a plant that provides the fall color everyone enjoys. Listed below are a few perennials, shrubs, and trees that can be planted and enjoyed for this fall season. All these plants are hardy to withstand Minnesota winters with the proper care and acclimation to your yard. With any new perennial, be sure to water thoroughly during its first year in your yard to ensure optimal root growth. Be sure to keep up on pruning and deadheading to inspire healthy foliage and new growth. Each plant is different, so be sure to talk to a garden center team member to ensure the best health of your plant. For help call 763-420-4400.


Minnesota Hardy Mum

We are offering 9 different varieties of Minnesota hardy mums. Thinking about adding a mum to your garden? Right now is the best time to plant mums. For the best quality mum be sure to plant 18-24 inches apart and provide a decent amount of sun. The mum is known for their mass of showy color for the fall season.


Perennial Rudbeckia

The perennial Rudbeckia can add a pop of gold in your garden. Also known as Black-Eyed Susan for its black centers and yellow petals, this plant blooms from mid-summer well into fall. The Rudbeckia is best planted in full sun to part sun and can be used as a back drop, providing height in your perennial garden.


Hardy Asters

Hardy Asters are wonderful additions by adding fall color with their sturdy structure. The bright pink bloom is a welcome contrast against yellows and oranges. The Aster thrives on the sun and achieves a max height of 15”. It is a very dependable fall plant and easy to grow.



Ninebark - ‘Lemon Candy’

This particular Ninebark is known for its bright chartreuse foliage that complements the warm colors of fall. This shrub matures into a compact, rounded shape providing symmetry. This sun-loving shrub is covered with white blooms in the summer and holds its bright green foliage from spring to fall.


Weigela - Tuxedo

The Weigela Tuxedo is known for its dark purple foliage contrasting well with fall golds and yellows. This compact shrub only reaches about 3’ in height and is great in a smaller area. This Weigela likes sun and is covered with white, bell-shaped flowers that stand out from its foliage.


Champlain Rose

The Champlain Rose is known for its hardy and disease-resistant nature. The bold, double red bloom is a great way to add a pop of rich color for fall. This rose blooms throughout the summer and reaches about 3’ in full sun.



Quick Fire Hydrangea Tree

The Quick Fire Hydrangea tree is known for its compact, ornamental tree form. With rusty pink blooms and bright green foliage, it provides warm tones during the fall season. This tree achieves about 8’ and does best in full sun.


Technito Arborvitae

The Technito Arborvitae is great because of its dark green, dense foliage. The soft texture of its foliage creates a delicate yet full backdrop for fall-blooming perennials. Provided with the right amount of sunlight this Arborvitae can reach 10’ tall.


Check out what’s new in our garden center. Our fall collection of plant material is here! Pumpkins and gourds are now available. Straw bales and cornstalks soon to come!