Winter Pruning Tips


1. Winter Pruning promotes growth in spring – the remaining branches on your Tree will benefit from fewer branches, using more water, nutrients and space.

2. Without foliage, you can see! So much easier to see clearly at this time of year to make your pruning decisions.

3. Have a clear purpose with each prune but have no fear. Be bold – with each prune you gain experience.

4. Remove undesirable branching. See the form, prune to your desired form. Remove rubbing or crossing branches, leave the strongest branch or the one that bests serves the form you desire.

5. Thin the Tree canopy. Remove suckers, these are generally straight growing with no lateral branches and can be easily seen in the winter. Remove branches that will grow into your canopy, leaving those in place growing the right direction.

6. Always prune to a bud and not in the middle of the branch. Choose a bud to cut. This will keep your form and canopy attractive… and minimize future pruning needs and enhance Tree health.

7. Slow and patient. Pruning is like painting, enjoy the process. Step back, look, see the Tree, see the form. If in doubt, wait until next year. You and your Tree have plenty of time to get to know each other. This will become a normal winter event. Plan to meet each winter!

8. When making cuts, always stay away from the “collar” but never leave an exaggerated stub. This will empower your Tree to heal well in the spring.

9. Winter pruning is great – no bugs! This applies as well for the Tree – no pest pressure on open wounds. Some Trees, like Oaks, prefer a winter prune and it can avoid several problems for the Tree.

10. Rule of thumb – flowering ornamental fruit trees can be pruned – Flowering Cherries, Pears and Plums – welcome pruning and it is so much easier now to do it! *Dogwoods and Magnolias prefer to be pruned right after flowering.

Fun Fact: Japanese Maples – best time to prune is winter for all the reasons above! For these Trees, form is everything – prune when you can see. Enjoy!

Winter pruning is beneficial for so many reasons – just a couple are time and exercise! For your specific questions or needs please reach out to the Tree Guy at grower@bowerandbranch.com


  • Bonnie says:

    Is it a good idea to prune low branches under my weeping willow tree? Also if I can prune do I leave a little nub where it is pruned,

  • Wendi-Jo says:

    Hi Bonnie!

    Absolutely it is okay to prune the lower branches on your Weeping Willow. And yes, you will want to leave a little nub at the prune site.

    The objective is not to prune too far into the branch collar or the Willow will struggle to heal properly. A well placed prune will leave no scar in the future. Branch collars are easy to see on most Trees, this is the area between the stem and the branch. Generally, the bark will be different and actually grow in differing directions. Stay away from this transition area and you will do wonderfully, as will the Weeping Willow Tree itself!

    Should you require further assistance, please contact us again. I can also arrange with you to speak directly with one of our Growers who can provide more detail and guidance for your specific Willow Tree. We can even FaceTime with you and talk you through the pruning process in real time if you’d like!

    Thank you for your question!

  • Sandy C says:

    I have arborvitae that are 20 feet high. Can I prune 10 feet off them?

  • Wendi-Jo says:

    Hello Sandy,

    Thank you for the question!

    YES – you can prune the top 50% off of your Arborvitae. For best results, you should do this late Winter or very early Spring. The goal is to have this completed prior to peak growing season. This drastic cut is going to shock your Arborvitae, so let’s take some additional steps to empower your hedge to overcome this action as quickly as possible.

    Apply eLements Fertilizer – this will help improve the soil and insure ample nutrients are available to support the desired recovery and growth. Use eLements at the recovery level recommendations immediately after the cut and then again four weeks later.

    Mulch & Compost with eLements Planting Composition. Apply around each plant, up to 3” deep. Remove sod or any other competing plants/weeds around each Arborvitae. Our objective here is to create a strong growing environment around each plant, keep weeds away, allow ample water and to build living soil systems. Great soils produce great plants.

    We should be prepared to expect new growth within a few short weeks but by the end of the year, much of this drastic prune will be hidden. By the following Spring season, you will be happy you made the time investment in doing so. In some instances, a drastic prune at this level may cause failure but our Growers tell us this practice has resulted in beautiful, fresh, rejuvenated hedges for many years!

    One last note, be sure to use sharp pruning tools – the cleaner, less damaging the cut is, the shorter the time will be to full recovery.

    If you have any other questions or concerns about your Arborvitae, please do not hesitate to reach out to us! You can either live chat with us, email our Growers directly (grower@bowerandbranch.com) or call us at 866-873-3888.

    Thank you & good luck!

  • Maureen Stettner says:


  • Wendi-Jo says:

    Hello Maureen,

    Thank you for your question!

    This depends on what type of Blackberries you have – we will give you guidance on both.

    If you are growing Primocane-Bearing Blackberries (these varieties fruit on first year growth and reward you with a Fall crop each year), this is what you should do.

    Prune all canes back to ground level in late Winter or early Spring. You’ll want the new canes to come from the crown of the plant. No additional pruning is necessary during the remainder of the year, although some people cut them to 36” when they reach 42”. This encourages them to branch and produce more fruit. If done too late, this prune can delay your Fall harvest – plan not to prune any later than mid-Spring, usually around mid-May in the Northeast. Our Growers prefer a mid season light prune to encourage additional fruit and keep plants much more attractive in the landscape.

    The other type of Blackberry is the upright growing variety – these will need to be pruned two times a year.

    Pruning attention in the Spring is for pruning of the canes formed last year. They are your fruiting canes for this year. Pruning forces canes to branch as they grow, which will give you a larger harvest. Cut the taller ones down to about 24-36”. If they are already about that tall, simply cut the top 1-2” to force the branching you are looking for.

    After berry season each late Summer, after the fruiting is over, the existing fruiting canes should be removed at ground level. Blackberry canes live for two years. The first year they grow, the second year they fruit. These canes will not fruit again the next year. Removing these canes each year helps the plant produce a better crop the following year. Your goal would be four to six first year canes remaining per plant when you are done with your late Summer/Fall prune. If the canes you are leaving have lengthy side branches, prune them back to 12” from the main stem. It sounds like you missed this step last fall – no worries – our Growers encourage you to get it done today!

    If you have any other questions about your Blackberries, please don’t hesitate to ask! You can live chat with us, email our Growers directing (grower@bowerandbranch.com) or call us at 866-873-3888 – we are here to help!

    Thank you & good luck!

  • Steven Robotnick says:

    I have a venus rutgers dogwood. I bought it two years ago. There are suckers growing from the bottom of the tree. Should I prune them? If yes, should I do it now or wait until winter?

    Thank you,

  • Wendi-Jo says:

    Hello Steven!

    Thank you for reaching out – great question =)

    Yes, you should definitely remove the suckers and do so now. Those pesky little shoots are called ‘suckers’ because they literally suck all the energy from the Tree. At this time, your Tree needs to use its energy to put out new growth up top – where it counts. The suckers are diverting the Tree’s energy from the main branches (where it should be directed) and using it for themselves.

    Depending on the size of the suckers, you may just be able to break/rip them off with your hand. If not, you can cut them off with a set of pruners.

    There is no special time to remove suckers – the minute you see one forming, remove it.

    Let us know if you’ve got any further questions – you can reach us via our Live Chat on the site, send an email to customercare@bowerandbranch.com or give us a call at 866-873-3888.

    Thank you & enjoy your day =)

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