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12 Plants You Shouldn’t Be Pruning In The Fall

12 Plants You Shouldn’t Be Pruning In The Fall

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Some people aren’t happy with the fact that summer is over. Gardeners are on the opposite side because this is the time when they reap the fruits of their labor.

This is also the time for cleaning the yard and doing as much work as possible until the cold weather makes everyone spend more time inside. Well, many get carried away and do more than they should. 

One of the best examples is pruning. This gardening chore has so many benefits but, surprisingly, it isn’t always a good choice and in some cases can do more harm than good.

I’ll show you some plants you shouldn’t be pruning in the fall and, of course, explain why. 

So, put down your pruners and read this first!

1. Boxwoods

Plant Size:2-20 feet
Light:Full sun/partial shade
Soil:Free-draining, porous
Watering:1 inch per week
USDA Hardiness Zone:5 through 9

Everyone likes boxwood plants! They’re easy to maintain, make perfect hedging plants, and can be shaped in breathtaking ways.

But, you should know that these beauties take a lot of time to be ready for maintenance by pruning and shaping. If there are any stray branches, you can cut them off no matter the season. 

However, if you want to do more pruning for shape or size, you should always do it in the spring. The bushes will display new growth after spring pruning and continue to develop healthily. 

2. Forsythia

Plant Size:8-10 feet
Light:Full sun
Soil:Free-draining, loose
Watering:2 inches per week
USDA Hardiness Zone:4 through 9

The main reasons why growers plant Forsythia are its fast growth rate, hardiness, and, of course, its incomparable beauty

Light yellow blossoms will appear in the early spring and announce the arrival of warmer days. These are perfect plants for beginner growers because they’re nearly indestructible

The thing is that fall pruning won’t kill your Forsythia plants but you’ll get the best results if you leave pruning for after the flowering season

3. Azaleas

Plant Size:2-6 feet
Light:Full sun/partial shade
Soil:Free-draining, nutrient-rich
Watering:2 times a week
USDA Hardiness Zone:7 through 9

Azaleas are one of the best colorful flowers and always make a great addition to any garden. These are spring-blooming plants and they should be pruned once their blossoms fade. 

You should know that almost all older varieties of these plants are spring bloomers. It’s essential to know which type and variety of Azalea you have.

Encore varieties produce blossoms in spring, summer, and fall but even they benefit from pruning after the first set of blossoms in the spring

The flower buds will start to form a couple of months after the blooms have faded. If you prune in the fall, you’ll remove the flower buds that should open when the next season begins. 

The last thing we want is a lack of Azalea blossoms in the spring!

4. Crabapples

Plant Size:Up to 20 feet
Light:Full sun
Soil:Rich with good drainage
Watering:1 inch per week
USDA Hardiness Zone:4 through 8

If you need a tree to plant near your house, a crabapple is the best option! Crabapples produce the loveliest blossoms in the spring, creating a perfect garden display. The blossoms give rise to fruits that attract orioles and other wildlife. 

But if you already have some in your garden, you should know that these plants aren’t really big fans of pruning. This species doesn’t grow very tall and we mainly prune them to maintain shape or size. 

The best time to prune crabapples is in late winter or early spring. During this time, it’s pretty easy to spot damaged or crossing branches as well as any branches that developed too low on the main trunk. Simply remove them and your crabapple is ready for the next season!

5. Fruit Trees

Plant size:Depends on variety
Light:Full sun
Soil:Well-draining, sandy
Watering:Deep watering every 7-10 days
USDA Hardiness Zone:Depending on variety

Well, the situation is pretty simple when it comes to fruit trees. The blooming period is followed by fruit production so the last thing we want is to end up with nothing to harvest!

These plant species enter dormancy after fruiting and we should wait for pruning until the dormancy period is over

We should focus on the removal of damaged or crossing branches to promote new and healthy growth. 

More pruning is typically required when the tree reaches its mature stage. You should only prune the lower branches to raise the canopy. It becomes easier to mow around the tree when there aren’t any low branches. 

6. Crape Myrtles

Plant size:10-30 feet
Light:Full sun
Soil:Well-draining, neutral to slightly acidic
Watering:1 inch per week
USDA Hardiness Zone:6 through 9

Those who live in colder climates and grow crape myrtle should know that these plants typically exit dormancy in March

The blooming season of these adorable plants starts in early summer and lasts throughout fall. 

You should prune your crape myrtle in February before it starts displaying new growth. As you may know, these plants generate blossoms on new wood. 

If you prune immediately after blooming, you risk removing the protective branches that help your crape myrtle to survive winter. 

7. Rosemary

Plant size:2-6 feet
Light:Full sun
Soil:Well-draining, fertile
Watering:Every 2 weeks
USDA Hardiness Zone:7 and above

If you love adding rosemary to your dishes, you can cut it whenever you need it. But those who live in regions where this herb grows as a perennial should prune rosemary regularly to maintain its health and vigor

Rosemary generates adorable tiny blossoms that serve as food for beneficial insects as they emerge from winter hibernation. 

Once the blossoms fade, prune your rosemary, dry the cuttings, and enjoy the flavor year-round!

8. Some Types Of Hydrangeas

Plant size:2-6 feet
Light:Bright indirect light
Soil:Well-draining, moist, fertile
Watering:1 inch per week
USDA Hardiness Zone:3 through 7

Since there are different types of hydrangea, it may be challenging to determine the right time for pruning. 

The thing is that some varieties produce blossoms on last year’s growth whereas the others generate blooms on new wood that develops in the spring.

The first types shouldn’t be pruned in the fall because they’ll bloom again the next season. 

When pruning your hydrangeas, remove the flowering stalks in late summer immediately after the blooming season ends. These plants generate flowers on the stems for one year.  

9. Knockout Roses

Plant size:3-6 feet
Light:Full sun
Soil:Well-draining, sandy, loamy
USDA Hardiness Zone:5 through 9

Have you ever landscaped with knockout roses? If not, I highly recommend it. 

These plants are way easier to maintain than other common varieties and best of all, aren’t susceptible to pests and diseases. 

Knockout roses will benefit from heavy pruning in late winter, just before they start displaying new growth. 

You should remove about ⅓ of the entire plant to promote flowering and get the preferred size and shape

Don’t forget to remove any damaged, diseased, or crossing branches!

10. Beautybush

Plant size:6-10 feet
Light:Full sun to partial shade
Soil:Well-draining, fertile, neutral to slightly alkaline
USDA Hardiness Zone:4 through 8

The small bell-shaped blossoms of beautybush plants appear in the spring on old and new wood. 

Pruning is a great way to maintain their health but also encourage more blossoms. These plants typically reach 10 feet tall and wide, which means they take up a lot of garden space. 

The best method is to prune ⅓ of your beautybush plant in late spring or early summer after the blooming season. 

11. Lilac

Plant size:Up to 25 feet
Light:Full sun
Soil:Well-draining, moist
Watering:Every 10-14 days
USDA Hardiness Zone:3 through 8

Splendid lilacs adorn gardens worldwide because of their stunning blossoms. Pruning is typically done in spring after the flowering season. 

After pruning, the flower buds will form and we don’t want to remove or damage them.

These plants don’t require regular pruning in order to be happy and healthy, and we mainly do it for growth control. You can use these cuttings to propagate your lilacs

But, you should prune older bushes by removing the oldest canes that are closest to the ground. 

12. Spirea

Plant size:2-10 feet
Light:Full sun
Soil:Well-draining, moist, neutral
Watering:Once a week
USDA Hardiness Zone:4 through 8

Spirea is another breathtaking plant renowned for its various colors and shapes. Similarly to hydrangeas, there are different spirea types; some produce blossoms in spring and some in summer

Therefore, it’s essential to know which type you have to determine the perfect time for pruning. 

If you have spring-blooming spireas, i.e., the ones that produce blossoms on old wood, prune them after the blooming season ends (late spring). 

On the other hand, you can prune in the fall if you have summer-blooming spireas

I know how tempting it can be to prune plants in the fall; we all want to promote healthier growth and get more blossoms. But when it comes to the abovementioned plants, it’s better to skip this method and leave it for the following spring.