Pruning Season: Just Around the Corner

Jan 27, 2017

After a couple of weeks of ice, snow, mud, and gloom over most of the state, the thought of working outside may not be very appealing right now, but the sun in peeking out today and there is still work to be done outside.

Jeff Iles, professor and chair in the Horticulture Department at Iowa State University says pruning is best done during the dormant season.

“Pruning wounds close faster when the plant is actively growing. So if you don’t get your pruning done in March, you can go back and prune in May, June and July," he says. "Oak trees, however, are best pruned in the dormant season and should only be pruned in the dormant season because of oak wilt.”

“I usually call a halt to pruning, during that time in April, when buds are expanding and leaves are just beginning to form. The plant is devoting a lot of its energy to growth at that time of year so why divert it? I also avoid pruning in the fall because plants are getting ready for winter and don’t need to cope with the stress of pruning.” 

Richard Jauron, ISU Extension Horticulturist, says that if you’re looking for something more permanent or hearty, he would look for perennials.

"Things like day lilies, peonies, irises, phlox, etc." he suggests. "You could plant these and have color between spring and late summer, early fall."

In this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe, talks with Iles and Jauron about pruning and listener questions.