It’s time to start cutting! Now until the end of June is the best time to prune spring-flowering shrubs and ornamental trees. That includes lilacs, forsythia, crabapples, flowering plums and pears, azaleas, mock orange, and viburnums, as well as anything else woody that blooms before July. On lilacs, remove the spent blossoms and trim back branches to maintain their shape. On shrubs like forsythia, it’s best to cut back the largest branches to the ground to encourage new healthy growth.
This is also the time to trim back summer blooming perennials that get leggy. Phlox, bee balm (Monarda), joe-pye weed, taller Sedum, mums, and asters can all benefit from pinching back at this point, both to control height and to encourage branching and more flowers.
With all of these shrubs and perennials, it’s important to stop pinching/pruning after June, because that’s when the plants will start producing flower buds. Yes, that’s the shrubs too… they produce their flower buds the summer and fall of the season prior to blooming.
So, get out there and garden!