Most plants will do their best if allowed to grow to their natural form and shape. Shearing and excessive pruning compromises the vigor and health of the plant, reduces blooming, and may shorten the life of the plant.
Every time you shear a plant, you create wounds that stress the plant, requiring additional energy and water for the plant to recover. The most widely recommended technique for pruning is selective pruning. Unfortunately, this is not the most widely practiced method. Learn about selective pruning, and if you're unsure about your skills (or needs), discover the different types of landscape professionals, and what you need to know when hiring a landscape contractor.
In the meantime, use the following tables as a guideline to determine the right time to prune for many common shrubs.
General Pruning Tips for Other Plants
|Common Name||Scientific Name||Pruning Tips|
|Agave||Agave sp.||Avoid all pruning. Pruning wounds often lead to pest infestations. Most Agave species will die after blooming. Do not “pineapple” prune.|
|Ocotillo||Fouquieria splendens||Do not prune. Plant in an area that will accommodate mature size.|
|Red or yellow yucca||Hesperaloe parviflora||Pruning is not recommended. Dried flower stalks can be removed. Do not shear.|
|No pruning needed. Dry, old leaves can be “peeled” on some species. Can remove old flower stalks after blooming. Do not “pineapple prune”. Do not shear.|
|Mexican Blue Palm Mediterranean Fan Palm||Brahea armata Chamaerops linearis||Cut dry or dead fronds. Do not top.|
|Prickly Pear||Opuntia sp.||Plant in an area that will accommodate mature size. If needed, make pruning cuts at the joints.|
|Conifers (pines, junipers, cypress)||During winter dormancy|
|Spring-blooming shrubs||After bloom is finished|
|Summer-blooming shrubs||During winter dormancy|
- Duffield, M.R. and W. D. Jones. 1992. Plants for Dry Climates. HPBooks, Los Angeles, California, ISBN 1-55561-176-1
- Johnson, E.A. 1997. Pruning, Planting, and Care. Ironwood Press, Tucson, Arizona, ISBN 0-9638236-5-1
- Mielke, J. 1993. Native Plants for Southwestern Landscapes. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas., ISBN 0-292-75147-8
- Schuch, Dr. Ursula K., Ornamental Horticulture Specialist, Blooming Season and Pruning Recommendations of Some Common Shrubs For Low and Medium Elevations in Arizona, Plant Sciences Department, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ