What to Prune in July (and what not)

What to Prune in July (and what not)

What to Prune in July (and what not)

While summer is best spent looking at the beautiful garden from a shady lounge chair, there are still a few tasks that should be done. One of these is a bit of pruning. Just a bit. Not all shrubs should be pruned this time of year. Most spring flowering shrubs have set buds for next year–pruning will only remove them. However, a few snips on some flowering shrubs will increase chances of a re-bloom before the summer is over, and for flowers next year.

Here are 10 that can be pruned now, and a few that can wait till late winter or next spring.

If you are wondering which of your plants may be pruned now and which should wait, leave a question in comments below. We’ll get back to you asap!

Pink Beauty Potentilla

Potentilla is a good choice for summer pruning to encourage flowering right into fall. Prolific bloomer; flower color will soften when nights are extremely hot. Versatile shrub for borders, along walks, low hedges and as a mass or foundation planting. Zone: 3 – 7


Natchez Mock Orange
Zone: 4 – 7

Spring flowering shrub noted for the flowers which carry a light fragrance much like the scent of orange blossoms. Full sun.

Double Flowered Japanese Rose
Zone: 5 – 9

Kerria japonica like this one with masses of brilliant, double yellow flowers can be pruned now. Partial shade to partial sun.

Nikko Blush Deutzia
Zone: 5 – 8

Deutzia like this compact, low grower with pink blooms and ruby fall leaves, should be pruned in summer. Partial to full sun.


Lil’ Sizzle™ Spirea
Zone: 4 – 9

Prune summer blooming spirea (Spirea japonica) for a second flush of color. Others, wait till next spring. Partial shade to full sun.

Chenault Viburnum
Zone: 5 – 9

Spring blooming viburnum are pruned in late winter, but its okay to prune Viburnum x burkwoodii now for shape. Partial to full sun.

Double Take Orange™ Flowering Quince
Zone: 5 – 9

If you didn’t get around to pruning there’s still a open window. Partial to full sun.


Grace N’ Grit™ Pink BiColor Rose
Zone: 4 – 9

Reblooming roses (including Knock Out) benefit from summer pruning for a second big crop of flowers. Full sun.

Magical® Gold Forsythia
Zone: 5 – 8

If you missed the optimal post-spring bloom pruning, go ahead and prune now for flowers next year. Full sun.

Black Knight Butterfly Bush
Zone: 5 – 9

Hard prune in spring, but a mid-summer pruning helps with size and late summer re-bloom. Partial to full sun.



Forest Pansy Redbud
Zone: 5 – 9

Now is not the time for pruning Cercis canadensis. We want flowers that bridge the gap between winter and spring!

Blue Balloon® Bluebeard
Zone: 5 – 9

Holster the clippers when it comes to these summer-into-fall shrubs. Prune after they flower but before the first frost. Full sun.

Tuscarora Crape Myrtle
Zone: 6 – 9

Crape myrtles bloom on new growth, so prune them in early spring before they break dormancy (and not in fall!). Full sun.


We know when to prune hydrangeas can be confusing. When it comes to pruning in summer, you will be attending only to three types–one sooner, the others later.

(1.) Mophead or French hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) which can be cut back after they finish flowering. For most of us, that is in August or September.

(2.) Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia) which requires very little pruning but if you need to improve the shape of the plant, prune in later summer or early fall (August – September).

(3.) Reblooming hydrangeas (typically the mophead types) bloom on growth from the current year as well as last year’s growth. All they really need is deadheading spent flowers and pruning out dead or weak stems. You can do that anytime.

Read here for much more on when to prune hydrangeas.


Here at the nursery we’re constantly pruning something. Here are a few of our tips for success:

  • Prune in early morning when your plants are fully recovered from the heat of the previous day.

  • Water after pruning so stems are fully hydrated and happy.

  • Remember that pruning can open up plants to pests and diseases. Only prune what has to be pruned!

  • Use sharp pruners–dull pruners can leave ragged cuts or crushed stems which are not good for your plants.

  • Clean your tools before making the first cut and clean again when you move from plant to plant. Finally, clean when you are done with this task.

  • Before wading into those beds and borders, look for nasties such as poison ivy, bees nests and snakes. You’ll be glad you did!

  • For the best housekeeping, discard all prunings including leaves and branches.


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