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Why Fall is NOT the Right Season to Prune Trees

The fall season is the perfect time to prepare your garden for the upcoming cold winters. It’s your time to fertilize your garden, get rid of weeds and dead plants, apply a layer of organic compost, and grow cover crops for soil nourishment.

While carrying out these tasks, you may feel the urge to prune plants, but let us remind you— it may not be a good decision.

Here’s why:

Why You Shouldn’t Prune Trees during the Fall Season

The major purpose of pruning plants is to stimulate their growth and increase the yield. If you prune them while they are getting ready to dormant, you’ll end up weakening the plants and ruin your garden.

When you prune plants on a warm day during the fall, sap rises up into the plant. As the cold night falls, it’ll freeze due and slow down the plants’ healing process. During the colder season, the plants focus on keeping their roots stronger. This is the reason why the healing of pruning wounds takes longer, leaving plants vulnerable.

During the fall season, fungi and disease spores tend to spread in gardens. If the plants are healthy, they can effectively resist them. But if they are weakened due to fall pruning, they’re more likely to get damaged.

The best time to prune most varieties of plants is during the late winters or the early spring season. This way, you can remove overgrown branches and thereby, increase the yield.

Here’s a list of some plants you better not prune during the fall season:

  • Azalea
  • Birch tree
  • Buffaloberry
  • Cherries
  • Dogwoods
  • Lilacs
  • Limelight
  • Maples
  • Plum trees
  • Roses
  • Smoke bush
  • Strawberries
  • Walnut tree
  • Woody shrubs

Plants You Can Prune in the Fall

Although it’s not recommended to prune and trim plants during the fall season, there are some exceptions:

  • Bearded iris
  • Blackberry lily
  • Blackcurrants
  • Blanket flower
  • Bronze funnel
  • Elderberry
  • Gooseberries
  • Japanese anemone
  • Raspberries
  • Rosemary

Pruning allows more sunlight to filter through the trees. When branches overgrow, it’d be a good idea to trim them to support the growth of the trees.

But before you prune plants, make sure the pruning tools you intend to use are clean. After trimming diseased branches, disinfect them before moving on to the next plant. This way, you can avoid contaminating the healthy plants and ruining your garden.


Unless the trees and plants in your garden are diseased, it’s best to delay the task of pruning trees until the next spring season. As mentioned above, pruning plants during the fall season weakens them.  This makes them more likely to become a victim to the cold or diseases. There are exceptions to this practice.  It’s important to also know, plants yield during the fall season can be pruned just before winters.

Have any questions or concerns?  Give us a call! We are happy to help.

Happy gardening!

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