Trimming Flowering Shrubs


The way you prune a flowering shrub can make a huge impact in the way it flowers as well as its shape, size and any future pest problems. Over time, unpruned shrubs can become woody and won't produce new buds, but a bush that is pruned forces more energy into producing larger, prettier blooms. It is important to time your pruning correctly, so that you do not accidentally remove next year's buds from your plants.

Step 1

Consult your plant guide to determine when your shrub flowers. This will help you determine when to prune your plant.

Step 2

Pull on protective clothing before pruning shrubs.

Step 3

Determine the shape of the shrub you want to maintain. Flowering shrubs should be pruned by cutting back one third of the oldest, woodiest growth to the ground or to the main branch in a technique called thinning.

Step 4

Plan the entire trimming process including which branches you will cut back before cutting the first branch.

Step 5

Cut each branch just beyond the point where it forks away from the primary trunk. Each cut should be made at a 45 degree angle away from the main trunk of the shrub.

Step 6

Swipe your blade or shears with a solution of bleach and water in between cuts to prevent the spread of diseases between shrubs.

Tips and Warnings

  • You should always wear long sleeved shirts and pants to protect arms and legs, as well as sturdy shoes, gloves and protective goggles. When sawing or cutting branches that grow overhead, it is a good idea to wear a hard hat to protect yourself from head injuries.

Things You'll Need

  • Flowering shrub
  • Plant guide
  • Safety goggles
  • Safety gloves
  • Hard hat
  • Protective clothing
  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saw
  • Branch loppers
  • Bleach
  • Cleaning cloth


  • Colorado State University: Pruning Flowering Shrubs
  • North Carolina State University: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
  • Washington State University: Pruning Deciduous Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • University of Missouri Extension: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs
Keywords: pruning shrubs, cutting back flowering plants, landscaping the garden

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.