Most shrubs that flower before midsummer do so on growth made the previous year, so pruning after flowering will give them plenty of time to put on this new growth.
While there are a few exceptions, it’s a good general guide to when to reach for your secateurs. Aim to cut back right after flowering, before June at the latest. This will give any new shoots at the base the chance to grow and toughen up before winter, and will channel the shrub’s energy into the new growth that will be made over the summer months.
Make sure you don’t cut into newer growth by identifying the older stems, which tend to be thicker and woodier. Take a look at our guide to pruning spring-flowering plants, for more detailed instructions.
Discover seven shrubs to prune after flowering, to promote vigorous new growth, below.
Exochorda x macrantha
Exochorda x macrantha is a beautiful spring-flowering shrub that produces a profusion of white blooms. The best way to keep the display coming each year is to cut back the flowering stems to half their length, once they’ve finished blooming.
Deutzias, such as the rose pink-flowered ‘Mont Rose’, should be pruned back hard after flowering, by cutting the bloom-bearing stems back to their base. Avoid pruning later on in the season, as new growth won’t have enough time to mature for flowers the following year.
Cheerful forsythias bloom on stems produced the previous year, so it’s important to not to prune too late, as you risk losing next year’s flowers. Instead, prune them immediately after flowering by cutting all the stems that have flowered, back to a pair of buds.
Weigela is vigorous and often outgrows its space, but pruning straight after flowering will overcome this problem. Prune after flowering to ensure the plant’s energy is channelled into new growth that will flower abundantly in spring. Do this by cutting the flowered shoots back by about a third.
Lilac (Syringa) blooms have a beautiful, heady fragrance, so it’s well worth pruning them correctly to avoid losing next year’s flowers. Once flowering is over, cut the spent stems back by about a third.
Mock oranges (Philadelphus), such as ‘Belle Etoile’, are reknowned for their scent. Prune them right after flowering by cutting back flowered stems to a healthy bud, or to a sideshoot that has yet to flower.
Without regular pruning, viburnums such as Viburnum tinus and Viburnum davidii can become woody and lacking in vigour. Prune any time after flowering up until early summer, aiming to create an elongated vase shape. Start by removing the upper part of the stem, then, with the main weight gone, it’s easier to cut it to the base.