When's the best time to prune?

ANDERSON, MATTHEW C mca575a at summa.tamu.edu
Fri Jan 6 12:44:00 EST 1995

Having gotten conflicting reports from various sources, I put the problem to 
the assembled knowledge here: when is the best time of year to prune woody 
shrubs and trees?

Assume that the climate is temperate with recognizeable seasons (unlike, to 
my mind, Texas), rainfall is ``average'' (i.e. not the desert or prairies, 
nor a wetland), and the plants in question are in good health and of various 
types, mainly native conifers and deciduous trees, as well as domesticated 
lilac and honeysuckle.

What I've been told so far is that it should be done in the fall after the 
leaves have fallen, that it should be done as early in the growing season as 
possible, and that it should be done in the summer.  Fall is best because 
the plant is dormant and damage (trauma?) is thus minimized; spring is best 
because it gives all season to heal the wound; summer is best because the 
wound has some time to heal and less chance of picking up a fungal 

What's the truth?

Your help is appreciated.

Matt Anderson
Department of Forest Science
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas  77843-2135

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