How to Prune Evergreen Shrubs During Winter Months for Insects


Evergreen shrubs include a variety of broad leaf and needled plants. Insect invasion during the colder months of the year places the health of the plant in jeopardy. Winter often brings wind and dryness to the soil and plant. The heavy weight of snow and injuries spell disaster to an evergreen with cracked limbs and branches. Pruning evergreens during winter months is a stopgap measure to prevent further damage to the plant.

Step 1

Schedule pruning for late winter to limit damage to the evergreen. Pruning during the dormant season may harm the plant. Aim to prune only the necessary portions of the evergreen to remove insect-damaged areas. Each evergreen has different growing habits. The best gardening practice is to consult a reputable nursery for assistance in timing the pruning of your evergreen in the winter. Save any cosmetic and shaping for early spring.

Step 2

Examine the damaged area of the evergreen to determine where to make your pruning cuts. Look along the branch for signs of damaged side branches or dead foliage. Locate the point where the damage stops. Place all restorative pruning cuts on healthy sections of the same branch or remove the entire branch to the main trunk.

Step 3

Select the correct tool to prune. Pruning clipper work best on small, 1/2-inch-wide branches. Pruning loppers cut branches up to 1-and-1/2 inches wide. Use the pruning saw to remove larger branches and limbs.

Step 4

Direct your first cut at the junction of the damaged branch with a healthy adjoining limb. Place an angled cut as close as possible to the adjoining branch. Remove the limb and place in a yard-waste bag for removal.

Step 5

Prune lightly along branch lengths for minimal insect damage. Use the pruning clippers or loppers to head back branches to remove sections of minimal damage. Heading cuts remove the damaged section above the nearest healthiest bud. Look for a small nub on the branch to denote a potential branch. Cut above the nub at a slight angle to remove the damaged branch section. Discard in the yard-waste bag.

Step 6

Remove only the damaged portions of the plant to the point where healthy growth occurs. Pruning in winter may limit spring blooms on the damaged portion of the evergreen. Shape the plant with further pruning in late spring or after the evergreen finishes blooming for the season.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning loppers
  • Pruning clippers
  • Pruning saw
  • Yard-waste bag


  • North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Pruning Shrubs
  • Texas A&M University: Follow Proper Pruning Techniques
Keywords: winter pruning, pruning evergreens, pruning insect damage

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.