Put down those gardening shears! The biggest gardening crime that’s committed year after year is pruning your plants during the fall. This is the most commonly believed myth in the gardening community. The best time to prune your garden is actually during the spring and here’s why.

Why Winter or Spring are the best times to prune

Pruning is essential because it spurs new growth. The best times to prune is actually during winter or the beginning of spring. During the fall, plants go dormant to survive the winter. Pruning the plant spurs new growth, which causes the plant to freeze and be damaged because it’s not dormant.

Another rule of thumb is to not prune while it is wet. Pruning while it’s wet will spread diseases. Damp and wet weather encourages microbes to grow which can severely impact your garden. It’s best to prune with it is sunny, which will kill all the bad bacteria and possible mold present.

There is a small caveat to this rule. Plants that produce sap during the winter should be pruned during the summer months. This includes maples, birches, dogwoods, walnuts, and elm trees. Like pruning in fall, pruning these trees during the winter will cause them to come out of their dormant state and potentially get damaged due to the harsh cold.

You’re pruning too much

Depending on what you’re growing, you might not need to prune at all. Most horticulture experts say that fruit trees are one of the few plants that require pruning, but it’s not necessary with other plants. Though it is proven that pruning does encourage more blooms to grow and more fruit to produce. Examples of plants that you can prune in the winter include: hydrangeas, cherries, plums, junipers, poplar, spruce and many more.

What to focus on instead  

If you’re antsy to get out and get your last gardening fix of the season, make sure that you’ve completed the rest of the fall maintenance required in your yard. You can also make sure to properly store your gardening equipment for the winter making sure it’s in tip-top condition for winter or spring pruning. But most of all, enjoy a few more chilly nights on the patio before the snow has fallen.