The May Rule

Posted by Andrea Howell on

Why are my (fill in the blank) NOT blooming??? 

The most common reason you missed your favorite shrub’s blooms this year is poorly timed pruning. While it isn’t true 100% of the time, following the MAY RULE may help you stay on track with pruning. 

MAY RULE....... 

“If a plant blooms BEFORE May 1st, prune immediately after flowering has ended. If a plant blooms AFTER MAY 1ST, prune during dormancy or wintertime." 

Here are a few examples.... 

Blooms before May

  • Azalea
  • Spirea
  • Forsythia
  • Camellia
  • Flowering Quince
  • English Dogwood
  • Japanese Magnolia
  • Tea Olive
  • Winter Daphne
  • and Many More...

Blooms after May

  • Hydrangea (except Oakleaf)
  • Crape Myrtle (but do NOT Crape "Murder" them!)
  • Vitex
  • Rose
  • Grape
  • Confederate Rose
  • Pyracantha
  • Liriope
  • and Many More...


Pruning Tips

  • Always make sure your tools are sharp and clean
  • Choose the right tool for the job
  • Do not prune in Fall--it risks freeze injury
  • Do not shear only.  Make cuts inside the canopy to promote leaf growth on the inside of the plant--also hides ugly, cut stems
  • Consider the natural shape and size of the plant.  Work with it or consider removing the plant and choosing one that is better suited
  • Consult with a landscape professional or extension agent before starting for advice
  • Take your time & remember the May Rule!


Good Luck and Enjoy your Colorful Garden!!!


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