Right Time To Cut Back Plants For Winter

As gardeners, it is essential to know the best time to prune your plants. Pruning is necessary for a healthy garden.

This process involves trimming your plants to foster new growth. The best time to prune your plants often depends on the type of plants.

But gardening experts often recommend pruning your plants after they start flowering.

This way, you won’t interfere with flower production. But when should you cut back plants for winter?

When to cut back plants for winter 

Some gardeners cut back plants during autumn to boost their garden’s aesthetics. Experts discourage pruning plants during autumn since this reduces the food and nutrients stored for winter.

As a result, it would be best to wait for spring to prune your plants. As a result, you’ll leave your plants to survive through winter. From there, you can start pruning in spring.

Even so, gardeners can prune selectively during autumn. This way, they’ll get rid of dead branches, stems, or leaves.

In turn, they’ll prevent plants from getting infested with pests and diseases. Needless to say, you have to understand the requirements of your plant before you start pruning during winter.

Some plants that can survive selective pruning in autumn include New Zealand flax and sea holly. Avoid pruning delicate plants before winter since their stems are responsible for safeguarding them from frost.

You can wait for April or early May to start pruning these plants. Once you complete pruning, ensure you use appropriate fertilizer to boost healthy plant growth.

Cutting back plants for winter 

Below are the steps to follow when cutting back plants for winter.

  • The first step is to ensure you have the right equipment. More often than not, gardening shears work perfectly.
  • Then, cut not more than a third of the plant gently from its base. Do this carefully to avoid interfering with the overall structure of the plant.
  • As you continue pruning, check for any weeds and unwanted plants in the garden. Remove all diseased and dead plants in the garden.
  • After you complete pruning, add fertilizer to the soil to grow stronger and healthier. Consider applying a single layer of mulch or wood chips during spring.

Cutting back plants during spring

As mentioned earlier, gardeners sometimes prefer leaving their plants unpruned until winter is over. Pruning right before winter can strip off nutrients from the plants. So, you may prefer spring pruning.

When cutting back plants during the spring season, you need to be extra careful. But why?

The shoots usually start growing during spring. Thus, failure to handle your plants properly will lead to damage. Typically, gardening experts do not recommend cutting back plants before winter. If you cut back plants for winter, you rob the plant’s food reserves.

And they may not be able to survive through winter. It would be best to postpone pruning to spring if possible. Alternatively, consider cutting back your plants in autumn. At this time, focus on removing wilted and dead plants. Also, get rid of weeds and diseased plants.

Doing this helps you boost the overall health of your plant. Ensure you use the correct fertilizer and mulch on your soil after pruning.

Is it possible to prune during winter?

Occasionally, gardeners may decide to prune their plants during winter. Most gardeners cut back plants during winter to create more garden space and foster fruit production.

One of the main benefits of winter pruning is that you can see the plant’s structure. Therefore, it will be much easier for you to prune if you are a beginner.

Nonetheless, not all plants grow healthy through winter pruning. Only a few plant species will benefit from winter pruning.

They include:


One of the plants you can cut back during winter is the grapevine. Typically, grapevines ooze sap when you prune them. Once the grapevines’ bleed’ or produce sap, they become weaker. Like most plants, grapevines are dormant during winter.

So, consider pruning them during this time. They will ‘bleed’ less. You can prune them in late December or early January. Note that this applies to all ‘bleeding plants’ as well.

Autumn-fruiting raspberries:

Another plant that benefits from winter pruning is the autumn-fruiting raspberry. Pruning this plant during winter fosters new growth that produces new stems. The stems bear fruits in the following autumn. You can prune this plant in mid-winter.


The following plant species you can prune during winter is wisteria. Wisteria is a unique plant and requires you to prune them twice per year. Usually, wisteria needs summer and winter pruning. During winter, prune this plant in December to boost flower production.

Fruit bushes:

Fruit bushes also require winter pruning. Some fruit bushes include blackcurrants and blueberries. When pruning these plants, make room for new wood by getting rid of the old wood. Then, leave the branches to promote healthy plant growth.


Did you know that roses also need winter pruning? Roses need pruning during late winter to produce flowers. Almost all types of roses can get pruned during winter. Nevertheless, rambling roses require summer pruning.

When trimming roses, focus on getting rid of the weaker stems and light prune robust stems. Also, it would be best to know the type of roses you are handling. This way, you’ll know the best time to prune them and type of shears to use.

Apple and pear trees:

You should also prune apple and pear trees during winter. Doing this fosters a healthy and plentiful harvest. When you prune apple and pear trees, energy gets directed to the remaining buds. When pruning these plants, ensure you get rid of dead and diseased plants.

Deciduous ornamental trees:

Consider pruning deciduous ornamental trees during winter. Concentrate on removing smaller branches and creating a stem of approximately 120 cm in height.

Get rid of crisscrossing and climbing branches that interfere with the plant’s growth. However, prune carefully to avoid damaging the whole plant. Also, avoid cutting the branch collar; otherwise, you would expose the plant to fungi, among other plant diseases.

Pruning deciduous ornamental trees makes them more fuller and healthier.

Should you cut back geraniums for winter?

Do you have a geranium garden?

Keeping a geranium garden in perfect shape is a lot of work for most homeowners. But the aesthetics offered by geranium gardens are worth the effort. Maintaining your geranium garden requires you to cut them back through pruning and deadheading.

Even so, you have to know the best time to cut back geraniums and the right equipment to use. Otherwise, your geraniums won’t blossom as they should.

When do you cut back geranium plants for winter?

As winter approaches, geranium plants are no longer in season. At this time, geranium plants start withering.

It will help if you start pruning your geraniums during this time as a gardener. Doing this will prepare the plant for winter and fill its food reserves until spring.

Often, you can start pruning anytime from August to the end of October. Always ensure you use the right pruning equipment to cut back your geraniums.

Cut two to three inches above the soil as you focus on trimming from where new growth begins. Get rid of any dead leaves, stems, and flowers. Cutting back geraniums for winter will help your geraniums bloom before the following spring season.

Deadhead for Continued Blooms

Failure to deadhead your geraniums slows down flower production. Consequently, your geraniums will appear scarce and reduce your garden’s aesthetics.

Anytime geranium blooms look weak or discolored, consider deadheading them. This is the only way you can recover your geranium plants. So, how do you deadhead geranium plants?

When deadheading geraniums, the first thing to do would be to have the right equipment. Gardening shears will work perfectly for you. Use the gardening scissors or shears to reach the plant’s bottom, where new growth usually starts.

Don’t just pluck the flower aimlessly. You can use your hands to snap the stem from its node. Healthy plants are much easier to snap since they are succulent and softer.

Deadheading geranium plants usually fosters new growth. In turn, your garden appears fuller. The positive change is often noticeable after a few days. Deadheading also makes your geranium plants last longer.

So, consider pruning geranium plants frequently. After deadheading, mulch the soil to encourage new growth.

Making the most out of geranium plants

If you want your geraniums to bloom, consider propagating them. All you need to do is cut a six-inch piece slightly above the node. Take the piece and dip it in a hormonal solution that encourages plant growth.

Then, prepare a container with potting soil with the proper nutrients to foster the geraniums’ growth. Ensure that the soil is moist. Plant the piece in the container with the potting soil. Feel free to plant more than two plant pieces in the container. It all depends on the size of the container.

Once you plant your cuttings, ensure that you place them in an area with sufficient sunlight and warmth. For best results, keep watering the plant from time to time to encourage healthy growth.

But be careful not to over-water the soil. After a few weeks, you’ll notice the growth of the plant.

And before you know it, the geranium plant will start blooming. Planting geraniums using this technique helps the plant bloom all year round. Growing geranium plants outside makes them dormant during winter.

How far do you cut back geraniums? 

When cutting back geraniums, gardening experts advise trimming two to three inches above the soil. Note that you should trim from the point where there is new growth.

Below are detailed steps explaining the whole process of cutting back geranium plants.

  • Step one:

Start by removing the longer geranium plants. This way, you’ll have a clear picture of the plant framework. Ensure you use the right equipment for these. If you are using gardening shears, ensure they are sharp and disinfected to prevent the spread of diseases.

  • Step two:

Get rid of any dead stems and branches. Carefully remove unwanted and diseased geranium stems and branches to keep them healthy. At this stage, consider getting rid of crossing/climbing stems that affect the plant’s growth.

Take time to pause in the middle of the process to see the project’s outcome. It would be best to ensure you have the desired plant framework. If you notice that your plants are not level, use gardening shears to shape the garden.

Nevertheless, avoid cutting more than 25% of the plant. Otherwise, you would damage the whole structure of the geranium plant. Gardening experts usually recommend light pruning geranium plants at first. Doing this helps you analyze the outcome of pruning.

This way, you’ll be able to know how to prune your geranium plants best. However, if you don’t prune often, you can conduct heavy pruning once a year and monitor how the plant grows.

In most instances, geranium plants grow healthier and fuller when pruned correctly. Generally, geranium plants thrive when pruned.

They incorporate high energy levels to grow back two to three times fuller. So, if you have geranium plants, don’t forget to prune them.

Although you should fertilize your geranium plants from time to time, it would be best to do this during spring and summer.

Adding extra nutrients to geranium plants in late summer is unnecessary since the plant is almost becoming dormant at this time of the year.

But generally, grow geranium plants in fertile soil and keep watering them, especially in dry seasons. Even so, make sure the soil does not cover the stems.

Best time to cut back your plants

The best time to prune usually depends on the type of plant. Generally, some plants require summer pruning, while others require spring or winter pruning.

So, take time to understand the kind of plant you are handling. From there, determine the best time to prune it.

Gardening professionals usually discourage cutting back plants immediately before winter. Pruning before winter can interfere with the food reserves of the plant.

Consequently, the plant becomes weaker since it will struggle to survive during winter. Even so, if you plan to cut back plants for winter, remove dead and diseased branches to keep the plant healthy until the following season.

But it would be best to wait for spring so that you can cut back your plants.