Put Down Those Pruners, Spring Flower Buds Are Present

If you care about having any flowers on your spring blooming trees and shrubs, put down those pruners right now!

Look at the buds on this Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata.

I see these big fat flower buds every time I pull in or out of my driveway. They remind me that in not too many more months, I'll have a lot of bloom again.

And these magnolia buds aren't the only flower buds in the garden right now.

Look at this viburnum, Viburnum carlesii.

From afar, the deep red foliage reminds us that it is definitely fall. But when you get up close you see those big, beautiful flower buds that promise flowers in the spring.

The lilac is showing its flower buds, too, though without the fall color.

We've already discussed that most lilacs just don't have good fall foliage color especially when compared to viburnums. It's hard to beat some of the viburnums for fall color, but the lilacs definitely compete in the spring when it's blooming time.

Some of the trees are getting ready for next year, too, with their spring flowering buds already set.Maples, like this red maple (Acer rubrum), don't have the showiest spring blooms, but the keen observer will note that they flower quite early. When I see the maple buds swell up as early as late February, I know I've made it through yet another winter.

I also see a lot of buds on my Forsythia shrubs, which include 'Gold Tide', a dwarf forsythia, and Forsythia x intermedia 'Show Off', which I just planted this fall.
I may prune a few of these forsythia early, early in the spring to force into bloom inside, but these would be the only spring flowering shrubs I would prune before they bloom.

Remember, the buds are already formed for the spring flowers! If you get all rambunctious with your pruners now in the fall and cut back or prune these shrubs, or any other spring flowering trees or shrubs, you will be cutting off these blooms before they even have a chance to make it through the winter. You will ruin your spring show in the garden!

So leave them alone. Go cut on something else, like dead hostas or peonies, if you must prune something back yet this fall.

You'll thank me for this advice once spring arrives and your spring flowering shrubs are all in full, glorious bloom. Yes, you will.


  1. Which makes me wish I had remembered to prune my Flowering Quince early last summer. Oh well, another spring of mostly greenery and not much flowering. Maybe I'll remember next year.

  2. Not to worry I usually let things go all floppy in my garden. It is fun to see all the buds. It seems to be a lot of hope all wrapped up in a small package.

  3. The more you look ... the more you see. And you can see spring coming. Yes, nature is already preparing for spring.

  4. I have been meaning for ages to get a mass of forsythia for near the top of the driveway. There is nothing like them in the spring--the first bit of color around here. And to cut and force some of the branches indoors is like a breath of spring when it's still cold outside.

    --Robin (Bumblebee)

  5. I agree with you on those viburnums. I bought three of them this year and the reddish-purple colors are great. One is a 'Shasta' and the other two are snowball viburnums.

  6. It's a relief to see those buds, isn't it? It does remind us that spring will come again.Now, if the weather would just get cold and stay that way...
    Like Lisa, I don't do much pruning; mostly just deadwood or to relieve overcrowding, but I don't do anything until spring, depending on when the shrub or tree flowers. I do cut a few twigs in midwinter to force indoors, generally just forsythia, bittersweet and dogwood. My magnolias aren't large enough to think about forcing yet, and neither are any of the viburnums.

  7. LostRoses... You might remember, but will you do it?

    Lisa at Greenbow... Well put, the buds do give us hope. There will be spring!

    Crafty Gardener... Mother Nature might be getting those buds ready for spring, but I hope she is also making sure they survive the winter!

    Robin(Bumblebee)... Maybe it isn't too late to plant some forsythia yet this year where you you live?

    Dave... Can a gardener have too many viburnum? As long as there is room, I think not!

    Jodi... I'll have to try forcing some magnolia, I've not tried that before!

    Thanks all for the comments and ideas!
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens