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Winter pruning tips

hydrangea in winter

March is a good month for winter pruning, while trees and shrubs are still dormant. Many trees have dropped their leaves, which opens up a clear view of their branch structure and makes it easier to reach branches and remove them.

Winter pruning allows for the removal of dead wood and branches that have been injured by disease, insects, animals, or storms. It's also a good time to remove crossing branches that can rub against one another and cause wounds. These wounds can create openings for diseases and pests to get under the bark and cause future problems.

Winter pruning increases airflow and light to stems and branches, and more light means more flowers, leaves, and fruits later on. Removing roughly one-third of the stems promotes new stem growth and helps shape the shrub.

How to prune


A good branch cut (on the left) leaves a donut-like ring after the branch is removed. This ring is called a collar and it's important for healing over the wound.

These tips are excerpted from an article by University of Michigan Extension educator Julie Weisenhorn. Find more winter pruning tips.