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Early Winter

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Prune deciduous trees with the exception of Birches, Cherries, Japanese Maples and (large cuts) Wisteria, which tend to bleed. If any tree starts to bleed, wait till late Winter to prune. Prune deciduous fruit trees, flowering trees and roses now, before buds swell. Best time for massive reduction (big cuts). Do Plums before they bloom in late Winter. Prune some woody Rose-family flowering & fruiting plants when their berries start to fall, e.g., Cotoneaster, Crabapple, Hawthorne, possibly Pyracantha. Avoid pruning some Evergreen trees from far-north or high-elevation cold-temperate climate zones, such as Japanese White Pine, until late-Winter-early-Spring. Continue pruning CA native Pines while the weather remains cold, to avoid attack by borers and infection by Pitch Canker disease. Avoid pruning California Coast Live Oak throughout the rainy season.

Late Winter - Early Spring

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Repot/root prune early budding deciduous container plants like Japanese Maples in late winter. Prune Birches, Japanese Maples when their buds start to swell or change color (for Maples, that's usually when day-night diurnal temperature fluctuation is small). This is generally the best time for massive reduction (larger cuts). You may choose to prune Cherries just before or after bloom (watch for bud swell). Avoid cutting older (woody) branches - they will die-back and even shorten the life of your tree. Due to confusion over whether fire-blight infects pruning cuts, ideally a Cherry is trained by pinching or heading new growth throughout the summer. Best time for massive reduction of evergreen trees sensitive to waterlogged soils, e.g., Japanese Pines. If soil conditions were good over winter, prune now. Holly composite.jpg (419173 bytes)Now is a good time for massive reduction and restructuring of broad-leaf evergreens because the strong spring growth will heal cuts and fill any gaps entailed. Avoid pruning any species susceptible to infection by diseases spread in warm-wet weather, e.g., plants in the Rose family, Giant Sequoia, Hinoki Cypress, California Coast Live Oak (all rainy season). Discontinue pruning of Monterey Pines after the weather warms to avoid infection with Pitch Canker. Only time for significant pruning cuts on Cryptomeria plants, just before growth begins.

Mid-Spring - Late Spring

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Prune dense new growth of Japanese Maples in mid-spring, as soon as leaves toughen. Use various methods to slow growth of vigorous early emerging Monterey Pines. Once-annual selective shortening of candles of weak species, e.g., Japanese White Pine. scan0095.jpg (738315 bytes)Selectively and/or progressively candle small-scaled, focal Japanese Black Pines. The cooler the climate, the sooner to do it. After Azaleas have bloomed, reduce or change shape. Begin maintenance shearing thereafter. Good time for massive reduction of sub-tropical plants like Bougainvillea, Citrus, Pomegranate Best time to prune spring growth of certain drought tolerant plants like Ceanothus, Manzanita and Rock Rose. Best time for massive reduction (big cuts) of California Live Oak.

Early Summer


IMG_0258.JPG (3160074 bytes)IMG_0264.JPG (3052051 bytes) Late candeling of small-scaled Pines, leaving smaller candles on tree. Light pruning of new spring growth on Cedar, Cryptomeria, Juniper, Spruce. Begin pinching/heading new growth of random-branching scale-leaf conifers like Cryptomeria, Juniper and Redwood. Begin control of vigorous shoot growth and water-sprouts in woody deciduous plants: pinch, head, break-over, redirect, ball-up etc. Repot/root prune sub-tropical container plants like Bougainvillea and Figs. Don't prune plants susceptible to sun-damage, e.g., Camellia, Citrus, Giant Sequoia, Hinoki Cypress, until Fall. Defoliate certain deciduous container trees such as Beech, Elm, Japanese maples, Trident Maples.


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Light pruning of new spring growth on Cedar, Cryptomeria, Juniper, Spruce. Remove cones from weak branches or trees, from Cedars, Spruces. Japanese Red Pines. Cut back branches from sub-tropical plants like Bougainvillea and Princess Flower when blooms fade. Good time for a vacation

Late-Summer - Early Autumn


Remove vigorous shoot growth and water-sprouts in deciduous trees and vines. Best time to prune fruit trees for dwarfing and fruit production is just after harvest. Best time for dwarfing all woody deciduous plants through selective pruning. Best time for pruning Apricot and various Rose-family species subject to wet-weather disease infection. Best time for regular, annual pruning of broad-leaf evergreens, California Live Oak, Camellias, and Rhododendrons.

Late Autumn

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Best time for once-annual pruning of most conifer trees, excluding Cryptomeria and Podocarpus gracillior. Begin pruning CA native Pines when the weather gets cold to avoid attack by borers and infection by Pitch Canker disease. Fall thinning and needle removal of focal-point (especially candled) pines. Lightly prune new growth, twigs or summer-pruning stubs stubs on Birches, Japanese Maples and Cherries when leaves begin to fall. This styling is for the winter-silhouette of focal trees. Remove persistent leaves of European Beech and lace-leaf Japanese Maple in order to appreciate the winter silhouette and admit light to nourish next years growth buds. Repot/root prune conifer trees o.k. in our mild climate.


Disclaimer: This calendar is just a general guide, not a rule-book. In general, life is specific. Every year, every plant and every location is unique. Things don't always work according to the rules, and rules may be broken if circumstances allow. ┬ęPeterThomasBowyer

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