To trim bushes, prune the damaged, crossing or unsightly branches just above a leaf node, or the nub on a branch where a leaf emerges. Damaged branches can be removed any time, but pruning flowering bushes at the wrong time of year may prevent blooms the following season.
- Prune at the right time
Remove damaged branches any time they are an issue, but perform general pruning only during the right season, depending on the type of bush. Flowering bushes must be pruned immediately after they are finished blooming for the season. With bushes grown for foliage, prune them anytime other than late fall, so they have time to recover before winter.
- Cut above a node
Use pruning sheers to cut just above a leaf node. Flowering shrubs put out new growth at that leaf node, creating a fuller, more attractive plant. Damaged branches should also be cut just above the last healthy leaf node to give it an opportunity to put out new, healthy growth.
- Prune for renovation
Flowering shrubs such as lilacs or weigela that have stopped producing showy blooms can be renovation pruned. With pruning sheers or loppers, remove a few of the oldest canes at the ground. This encourages new growth and more blooms the following season. Never remove more than 1/3 of the plant.