The “haircut” method is a combination of thinning cuts and heading cuts. It is a careful, selective process that involves cutting off parts of a plant to improve its shape and spark new growth.
**If you are unsure if this method is best for your plant, search for your plant here in our knowledgebase and scroll down to the maintenance section within the plant’s profile.**
When should you prune?
- Once every 2-3 years during dormancy
- Pruning occurs in late fall, winter, or early spring.
- Do not prune in late summer or early fall because the new growth will not fully harden off before winter.
Why use the haircut method?
- Remove dead, damaged, or diseased branches
- Direct new growth upward and out from the center
- Remove crossing or rubbing branches
- Decrease height
- Increase or decrease density as desired
- Shape plant
Begin by removing 1/2 or 2/3 of the plant’s overall size, and then selectively remove the oldest, heaviest twigs completely to the ground. It is best to make these cuts directly above a bud such as with heading cuts. Afterward, use thinning cuts to remove 1/3 of the oldest branches to the ground. This method is useful on many common shrubs like Potentilla, smaller Spirea, and a select few Hydrangeas to help prevent them from being leggy. The haircut method is used every 2 to 3 years to maintain the plant’s vigor.
Warning: if done every year for several years the plant’s stored energy reserves decrease dramatically, which will impact the plant’s density and flowers.
During intermittent years, selectively use heading cuts to maintain height and shape.
Giving your shrubs a haircut every 2 or 3 years will encourage new shoots and fine textured leaves on the plant. Cutting the branches back works to remove any die back from winter and old flowers from the summer before. Poorly pruned plants decrease curb appeal and may often lead to plant mortality. If you are unsure about which method is best for your plant, search for your plant here in our knowledgebase and scroll to the maintenance section within the plant’s profile to see our recommendations. If you have any further questions about pruning your plants, contact us.