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Should You Prune in Fall?

Autumn is the best time to plant, yes, but what about pruning? Is it the best time to prune trees and shrubs?

The overall answer is no, you do not prune in the fall. Plants are about to go dormant and do not need to be pruned now. Pruning in fall can confuse the plant to where they will start to put out new growth that a frost will then zap.

Although generally speaking, you shouldn't prune in fall, there is a situation where you can- let's get into specifics below.

First, the "do not"s:

  • Do not prune spring-blooming shrubs and trees in fall. Your spring-blooming plants have already set their buds for next spring inside their stems. So even though we can't see the buds yet, know they are formed and if you prune in fall, you'll be lessening the blooms you see next spring.

A situation when you can prune:

  • The only time to prune in fall is when you have a few unsightly stems that need to be trimmed for a tidier look (i.e. a boxwood that needs some light shaping before winter). Light pruning is fine in fall, but keep it light, this is not the time to majorly cut back a plant.

Do I fertilize in the fall?

Since plants are beginning to go dormant, it is not time to fertilize. Fertilize plants in late winter/ early spring, when they are waking back up to grow again. This includes any newly planted trees or shrubs- wait to fertilize until late winter.


Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. We're here and happy to help answer your gardening questions and help you pick the perfect plants for your space. We look forward to seeing you this fall!

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