As your garden is beginning to go to sleep for the season, you may be ready to do some autumn cleanup. And while it’s fine to rake up leaves (and compost them!), pull faded annuals or plant spring-flowering bulbs, there are many shrubs you shouldn’t prune in the fall—and some you should never prune! If you’ve ever wondered why a shrub isn’t flowering, it may be that you pruned it at the wrong time last year. In fact, many flowering shrubs bear flower buds on last year’s wood, known as “old wood,” so if you cut them back now, you’re cutting off next year’s flowers. And if you prune any shrub too late in the season, you’ll stimulate new growth, which will not have time to harden off (or toughen up) before a freeze. This can damage and weaken the plant, so leave pruning until next year.
So, save yourself some work now and frustration later, and put down those pruners! Here are the most common shrubs and perennials you shouldn’t prune in the fall: