When it comes to gardening tasks, Autumn can feel like a season of preparation: getting your plants ready for the winter, and cleaning things up a bit so you have less work to do come spring. But if you’ve already planted your spring-flowering bulbs, put away your outdoor furniture, and raked all the leaves, you may be tempted to reach for the pruning sheers next and give your shrubs a quick pre-frost snip.
But, according to Arricca Elin SanSone of PureWow, that’s not always a great idea. In fact, pruning certain shrubs at this time of year can actually damage them, she explains in an article for the site. Here are a few examples of shrubs that fall into this category.
When you prune rhododendrons in the fall, you’re typically snipping off what would otherwise end up growing into clusters of pink, purple, and white flowers in the spring, SanSone explains.
Just as spring starts to creep in, forsythia is the first out of the gate with blooms early in the season. And while several different types of the shrub can become unwieldy, SanSone says to hold off on trimming anything in Autumn, because doing so will remove the buds that will grow into next year’s bright yellow flowers.
The same goes for lilac: Pruning it in Autumn means cutting off next spring’s blooms. According to SanSone, lilac shrubs shouldn’t really be trimmed at all, unless you’re cutting off a dead branch.
Part of the appeal of ninebark is its arching shape with colourful leaves and petite flowers that bloom in the spring. Pruning the shrub in the fall — or any time of year, for that matter — could ruin its shape. Like lilac, you can trim back any dead branches, but otherwise, SanSone says to leave it alone.